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Artifact and Fiction 

Ron Griffin, Ernest Silva at Bergamot galleries

Wednesday, Jan 30 2008

Ron Griffin's work relates to several now-classic tendencies in local art, from Finish Fetish to the oblique Pop of Joe Goode and Ed Ruscha and the assemblaged expressionism of Ed Kienholz; but there's a noir quality to Griffin's art that ties it even tighter to the Southern California ambience. Employing meticulous craft, Griffin enshrines the discarded remnants of human lives (which he finds in and around the Mojave Desert) by refashioning scraps of paper, including photographs sealed in translucent (but not transparent) envelopes, in acrylic paint, pencil and other more or less traditional media. These, in turn, he presents in superbly hand-fashioned frames, most notably in vitrines with movable secondary drawers. The repainted shards are rather like collages in reverse; what in, say, Rauschenberg's hands would be jumbled and dynamic now becomes lucid and poignant. The images whispering in their envelopes provide a voyeuristic frisson; a few of them, at least, seem to be homegrown softcore, but their general mystery and obscurity at once invite and frustrate our curiosity. At Tarryn Teresa, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; thru Feb. 8. (310) 453-4752.

click to enlarge Ron Griffin, Untitled (2007)
  • Ron Griffin, Untitled (2007)

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Ron Griffin, Untitled (2007) (Click to enlarge)

The hand-fashioned fantasy of Ernest Silva is also powered by narrative and by speculation, only here, the artist conspires with us to conjure a story. He lays out the ingredients, including human figures, woodland animals, trees, boats, the moon, etc., and, while painting them broadly and sketchily, arranges them with an almost iconic symmetry, so that they seem poised to enact a drama. Although tinged with a Germanic romanticism, Silva's setups derive quite deliberately, almost self-consciously, from American sources, be they mid-19th-century landscape painting or early-20th-century children's books (or, in the case of several sculptures, Native American totems). Oddly, Silva's charming apparitions are no less sinister, and no less seductive, than Griffin's creepy artifacts. At Patricia Correia, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Feb. 9. (310) 264-1760.

-Peter Frank

Last week in this space, due to an editing error, a review by Peter Frank about Polish Angelika Trojnarski appeared with the wrong gallery information. The show, which runs through Feb. 9, is on view at Kinsey/DesForges, 6009 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Hours are Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. noon-6 p.m. (310) 837-1989.

  • Ron Griffin, Ernest Silva at Bergamot galleries

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