On paper, elegant
While Manuel Neri (b. 1930) may be known primarily as a sculptor, there are only eight such pieces—four busts, four figures—on display in his current showing at b. sakata garo. The rest is strictly a two-dimensional affair. Still, when you can reduce the female human form to an elegant calligraphic squiggle on a flat plane that resonates with fluid motion and dynamic tension, why should you need anything more, ahem, voluptuous?
On the gallery’s north wall, near the door, hangs a series of eight such paintings by Neri, each of which depicts a lone figure, mostly rendered in blacks and blues, on a field of white. Stand before one, stare at it even for a moment, and you may have a hard time convincing yourself that you’re not looking at some kind of animation. Also on hand are a series of feminine forms that, on closer inspection, appear to be photographs and adverts from European fashion magazines that Neri appropriated, then painted over. “I coulda done that,” you mutter. Sure, but you didn’t, and Neri did, and for the price of an entry-level Korean subcompact, you can hang one in your very own living room.
Neri, who lives in Benicia, taught at UCD from 1965 to 1990, so the b. sakata garo showing represents a homecoming of sorts. If you’re wandering around Midtown, you should experience it for yourself.