Although Peter Lodato’s paintings are as pared down as his work has ever been, and deal in the formal rigor that has defined his oeuvre since the 1970s, they are as richly evocative as his past sculptural and installation works. Lodato’s is a practice rooted in variation upon theme; this show comprises paintings of what initially appear as juxtaposed rectangles of alternating colors (black-white-black, green-white-green, etc.). Lodato’s titles — varying from the associative (“Greek Screen”) to compositional transcripts with poetic implications (“Edge on Center”) to simple color notes (“Red and White”) to mashes of the fanciful and the descriptive (“Carlo’s Abyss/Permanent Violet”) — offer a clue to what becomes clear once you give the work the attention it warrants.
These simple compositions yield complexity via plays of positive and negative space; the pitting of shapes against edges and margins; links between multiple forms; and modulations of color. The results are experiences of paint on surface, which register simultaneously as reductive and stubborn geometric abstractions in the vein of Ellsworth Kelly; investigations of defined luminosity à la Mark Rothko, as well as James Turrell; pictures of space divided into planes and portals, monoliths and voids; and meditations upon movement and patterns, of which these paintings reveal themselves as swatches. The reductive delivers depth and achieves expansiveness.
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Peter Lodato: New Paintings; William Turner Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., E-1 (Bergamot Station), Santa Monica; Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; through January 10. (310) 453-0909 or www.williamturnergallery.com.