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Martin Durazo: Territory & Owen Drysdale: Plinth: Large Paintings and Visual Haikus

Martin Durazo paints large - his "Empire" is 60x48" - and uses pink, blue, white, and yellow to create a sense of variety. There are also black lines, close to smudges, that add emphasis, and blue and white circles, seemingly stenciled, that intrude to add another element. The result is colorful, but cold.

"Jones" is the same size, and is similar, with three stencils figuring more prominently, though partially painted over to soften their inpact. Some red in the lower left hand corner anchors the work. "Territory" is larger, 72x108", and includes some of the same colors and elements, but here with purple oblongs added that shape its composition.

The three other paintings on display in his exhibit Territory have abandoned the stencil effect -- I didn't miss it. "Castle" has a dominant yellow-green object bottom center, balanced by a much smaller red bar, center top, a bit like a Christmas stocking hung by the fireplace. The bottom figure is ambiguous - it could even be echoing the shape of one of Niki de Saint Phalle's "Nanas".

I liked the smaller "Trance "III", with a vertical large blue oblong at upper right, and two red-magenta horizontal stripes to add to the energy, and two more subtle yellow-green additions. The blue launches us into the painting, the red leads us on, and the yellow-green seduces. It is intriguing.

And I liked even better "Geyser", 84x72", which omitted the vivid colors and settled for black and grey and white, and of course blue for the water. Sometimes less is more; this painting has power, and mystery.

Owen Drysdale is an even more subtle artist, offering up visual haikus that suggest rather than illustrate. I liked best "1br/1bath", oil on panel, colored with bluish-black, pale orange and a few other pastels. It is interesting in itself, yet it seems like a fragment of a thought.

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For a minimalist artist, Dysdale is courageous in titling his works -- "Leaden Prospects" and "Empty Room" may lend themselves to sarcasm, though not from me. I enjoyed the shape and flow of "Leaden Prospects", which, paradoxically, has an airy, fluid aura.

There is a site-specific black and white wall painting, "Untitled", but I found its starkness unappealing. Drysdale may have an artistic purpose at work here, but, if so, I couldn't parse it out. "Embankment 2, varied from the others in suggesting that the color splashes may be a window into something - perhaps into the soul.

His smaller paintings, 12x9", seem more successful, perhaps because of their limited size, as the colors here can control their environment. I liked both "Pane" and "Somerville Campers (setup)". On this scale,the ideas seem more fully developed, less fragmentary,and suggest that Drysdale may be an artist to be watched.

Martin Durazo: Territory & Owen Drysdale: Plinth continues through August 30 at the Barbara Davis Gallery, 4411 Montrose, open Tuesdays to Fridays 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., 713-520-9200, barbaradavisgallery.com.

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