Los Angeles Times

Composition from Decomposition

by Christopher Knight

Los Angeles artist Ingrid Calame has indirectly spawned a number of artists who do variations on her well-known technique of transcribing stains found on city streets and sidewalks. Among the more interesting isMatthew Picton, a London-born, Oregon-based artist having his first solo show at Solway Jones Gallery.

Where Calame uses her “found-drawings” as raw material for carefully composed, even precisely manufactured paintings, Picton seems more directly interested in natural processes. (Perhaps that’s the British connection, from Richard Long’s “landscape sculpture” in the 1970s’ to Andy Goldsworthy’s today.) His work charts decay and dissolution.

The show includes four wall sculptures made from Mylar thickly painted in black or red enamel. The Mylar has been cut with a knife into fragile webs whose linear shape derives from the inticate pattern of cracks and fissures in asphalt or concrete on roadways, parking lots, alleyways and playgrounds. The jagged webs, formed by expansion and contraction in response to shifts in weather, are a kind of anonymous diary of material collapse. Picton turns their negative space into positive form.

Suspended from straight pins, the webs stand a few inches out from the wall. One looks like an EKG, another recalls snakeskin. A third suggests a road map. These references don’t go very far, however, and a sameness undercuts the work.

More provocative is the fifth wall sculpture, which is made from a sickly orange resin, “Interior Cracked Roadway Sculpture #2, Medford, Oregon” is a chunky, spindly form cast from a mold made directly in the roadway. The resin glows from within, capturing ambient light, while its muscular form gives the object an aggressive, even vaguely alarming quality. When faced with this particular lesion, decay hardly seems benign; meanwhile, its candy-colored physical beauty makes for a contradictory attraction.

Solway Jones Gallery, 5377 Wllshire Blvd., L.A., (323) 937-17354, through June18. Closed Sundays and Mondays.