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Review: “Karl Benjamin: The Late Paintings” at Louis Stern is Colorful Fun

originally posted on: Los Angeles Times, by David Pagel

“Karl Benjamin: The Late Paintings” is all about discovery. Fun figures into the sharply focused show, as does delight, surprise and wonder.

At Louis Stern Fine Arts, the first exhibition of Benjamin’s works since he died two years ago at 86, shows a lover of color at the height of his powers: slamming together slender, neon-tinted triangles with weird wedges of cinnamon brown, bruised maroon and delicate gray to make paintings with madcap palettes that sound gross but look great.

Vision, not logic, mattered to Benjamin, and his 12 late paintings bring his purposeful wackiness to viewers so generously and deliciously and joyously that you can’t help but feel as if this show is a gift.

It’s set up perfectly. The five paintings in the first gallery, painted from 1986 to 1989, show Benjamin balancing color and structure, sometimes packing super-saturated slabs and slices into jigsaw compositions and at others laying out asymmetrical wedges of color as if each were a panel of a folding screen or the flexible folds of an accordion.

Click here to read the article at Los Angeles Times

Photo: Karl Benjamin’s “#6″ is an oil on canvas painting created in 1995. (Louis Stern Fine Arts)

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