Miranda Putman's ambitious paintings and drawings at b. sakata garo give us a look at a re-emerging artist who is working hard to develop an individual vision.
|Although the vibrant golds and blues of Miranda Putman's "Above and Below" aren't visible in black and white, the vigor and and freedom of her brushwork are obvious. b. sakata garo |
Working from photographs and sketches of weathered, fallen remains of trees and the geologic layering that one sees in high mountain areas, she writes in a statement accompanying the show, Putman makes abstract drawings that suggest ruined landscapes where decaying tree limbs coexist with animals and smaller plants. Her work hearkens back to a tradition of gestural abstraction exemplified by Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell and others.
In "Drawing No. 9," Putman gives us a rich and spiky landscape of tangles, thickets and thorns. She takes a more lyrical approach in "Drawing No. 5" with lilting, linear markings that call up the spirit of flowering plants. Some of the abstract forms Putman generates remind one of the surreal automatism of Arshile Gorky and the elegant oddity of John Altoon's graphics.
But her drawings, while vigorous and searching, are coarser, busier and more chaotic than theirs. At times her forms get bogged down in too much activity, too much detail, so that they seem simultaneously overworked and under-digested.
The same is true of some of her large-scale oil paintings, which explore the tension between color and line in multilayered surfaces infused with lush colors. The dark trunks of blasted trees rise up against a rich background of reds and salmons in "Two Trees," which has the feeling of an apocalyptic landscape. "Above and Below" is a calmer take on the landscape, infused with wonderful blues that call up water and sky.
Some of the paintings almost lapse into chaos, bringing to mind dark and possibly violent forces. In "The Inhabitants," layers of markings that suggest nature running rampant explode from a hot orange glow. "April," a welter of dark markings pitted against passages of salmon and mauve, calls up associations with some of Mike Henderson's patchworklike abstractions.
Other works, including the radiant "Pink Is an Edge" and "Eight," with its bold red form looming against subtle tones of green and blue-violet, are more purely abstract.
All point to a promising future for Putman, who had one-person exhibitions at the Triangle and Erickson & Elins galleries in San Francisco in the 1980s and 1990s. Her current show is her first solo outing since she received her master's of fine arts degree from the University of California, Davis, in 2003.
Miranda Putman: Paintings and Drawings
WHERE: b. sakata garo, 923 20th St.
WHEN: Noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, through Saturday
INFORMATION: (916) 447-4276