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Art Reviews, Cultural Bric a Brac, Jargon Free

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I am an independent writer living in Los Angeles. I write Visual Art Reviews, General Cultural Essays, and Book Reviews.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tim Bavington

Tim Bavington
Mark Moore Gallery
Through March 29, 2008


Currently, Dave Hickey is garnering a great deal of attention for his recent show in Las Vegas of artists he finds interesting and of the moment, many of which are his former students. At the same time, Hickey is advocating, and rightly so, many Los Angeles hard edge painters that never received the attention they deserved over the years like Karl Benjamin and Helen Lundeberg. I am fan of Hickey’s writing, but I was hesitant to head to Laguna, where the Las Vegas show currently resides. I thought I would test the waters first by looking at the exhibition's poster-artist, Tim Bavington, at Mark Moore. I was well rewarded.

Bavington certainly fits Hickey’s universe well. His canvases are lavish and unapoletically beautiful, and like many of Hickey’s darlings, the decadent overpainting belies a shrewd intelligence underneath. Starting with measures of musical notation, Bavington’s paintings hover between intuitive abstraction, easy going west-coast conceptualism, and op while at the same time giving a firm nod to popular culture -- specifically a sort of tacky urban energy that we often discover, once we let our guard down, is quite aesthetically pleasing. If you wonder how Hickey's taste operates, with an eye that focuses as cleanly and alertly on Gajin Fujita as it does on Ellsworth Kelly or John Baldessari, Bavington might be a partial but incomplete answer.



Bavington starts with a pop song and turns its notes in spectrums of modulated color. The process is more experiential and emotional than rigorous, but the conceptual premise retains its pattern just the same. Working from drawings, his canvases are laid out and completed with hazy strides of sprayed painted lines that drift and play with a viewer’s perception. Like a good Kelly, you feel like you are seeing certain color interactions for the first time, but instead of the experience being comparable to something in nature like Kelly, Bavington’s color interactions perhaps recall the sudden shocks of Vegas, a sort of electric dew that burnishes the eyes and sends a pulse through the heart.

The canvases in Mark Moore range from one epic panel, to a squarish enigmatic sliver of color either on or under a overcoating of black, to a large grouping of smaller works that use the grid format of the wall to create even further interactions. The many drawings that accompany the show are a nice view into Bavingtons working method.

Hickey once wrote, I’ll paraphrase, that he prefers the fake sublime of the Vegas strip to the fake sublime of nature. Perhaps that is what we see in Bavington, an ability to take overwhelming visual stimuli, churn it into abstraction, and then wantonly display the gaudy beauty for all to see. Very Vegas indeed.