Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Body Never Lies

Insouciance (2011) by Robert L. Schultz

The Koplin Del Rio Gallery in Culver City currently has an exhibit of drawings by Robert L. Schultz. Of the 15 works on display, most of them are graphite on paper. And all of them are figure pieces, devoid of color. Yeah, that doesn't sound too exciting, but I really enjoyed the show. These works are exquisitely detailed with subtle gradations of value. This creates a physicality to the figures, with texture, contour, and depth. The images project a compelling material presence.

There really isn't a coherent theme to the show. Three pieces are standard nudes. Three are of luchadores. Four are of a female model. Three are of a male model with short hair. Two are of a male model with notable tattoos. The only commonality to these works is the aforementioned sense of physical authenticity. These figures look like you can reach into the drawing and touch them.

Woven Rug (2009) by Robert L. Schultz

But there is more to these drawings than mere material illusionism.

Each piece has its own mood. Each figure expresses a mental or emotional state. The positioning of the body and the play of value, from black to white, are the key modes by which the emotion is conveyed. Sometimes the expression is overt, like the proud luchadore standing with arms akimbo before a white background. Other times, the statement is vague, like in the contemplative pose of this piece:

Lucia (2011) by Robert L. Schultz

Art doesn't need to have a "meaning" and, sometimes, it can be just a straight rendering of a subject. That's fine. We can appreciate the craftsmanship of such works. Perhaps that's the case with this show. Certainly, the nudes feel like superbly drawn figural studies of no greater aesthetic significance. However, there are too many pieces in this exhibit that have expressive content to write it off as merely a top-notch technique show.

I guess each piece ought to be evaluated individually, without trying to gain insight from the context. And anyways, what's not to like about robustly physical figural drawings?

Here's a link to Koplin Del Rio Gallery. This exhibit ends on May 28. So, if you're interested in seeing it, don't procrastinate.

And here's Robert L. Schultz's website.


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