A Conversation with Rachel Dedman, Curator of "Labour of Love: New Approaches to Palestinian Embroidery", The Palestinian Museum, by James Scarborough
"The Twentieth-Century Way," Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre, by James Scarborough

"Greg Mocilnikar: Short Stories", at Walter Maciel Gallery, by James Scarborough

INTRODUCTION. In the beginning was the Word. Or was it the Light? Nevermind. Greg Mocilnikar’s work bristles with ambiguity, with trying to work through a moment’s feeling and the appropriate way to express it.

Each piece represents a skirmish of formal elements. The combatants: meaty, organic black lattice-swaths of black versus a legion of colorful pastel-toned geometric confetti shapes. The action takes place in a pictorial equivalent of a dojo, seen from above. The space is flat and taut, self-contained; the forms pushed up against the edges. In most of the work, the black swaths suffocate the confetti shapes. In a few, the confetti shapes gain the upper hand. In one, an almost monochromatic piece, a lambent red atmosphere suffuses all traces of the black. If you could arrange the pieces in a flip book, you’d see a back and forth transition as the drama unfolds. Think of Hans Richter’s animation Rhythmus 23, c. 1923.

The artist calls these pieces Short Stories. As a whole, they suggest vignettes, tales of formal and emotional drama. He makes them out of cut paper gouache pigments and ink. He blurs the edges, especially the pastel ones. The compositions are off-center, tilted. Along with the blurred edges, they suggest instability, a struggle to unveil conflicting emotions. Happiness/love and despondency/turmoil, perhaps? On one hand, brooding black shapes, ponderous, heavy. On the other hand, sprightly lyrical ones. Melancholy anger versus lyrical joy. Franz Kline Abstract Expressionism versus Matisse paper cut-outs. Conflicting emotions, then, irrespective of the cause, one in the ascendancy, then the other.

How to express this? Through the interplay of formal elements? Through the complication of words? A combination of both, like in Cubist collages? That’s the issue, the act of articulation, not the things articulated. The artist writes as much on one of the works, I exist in two places. Not just opposite emotions but their proper expression.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Mocilnikar’s fourth solo exhibition at the Gallery marks a continuation of the artist’s prior aesthetic, from the obstruction to the engagement of visual data and feeling.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? The work correlates to the struggle toward happiness, not its ultimate fulfillment. In other words, no permanent emotional state is guaranteed.


A masterful control of energetic compositions. A taut balance between bulky black shapes cut on the bias and smaller colorful shapes. Through their masterful placement or else their sheer number, they equally distribute pictorial weight. The effect: roiling but heading somewhere.

The monumental tenor of each piece undercut by the fragile transparency of their gouache medium.

The continuity from piece to piece of the same visual scenarios (or, since they’re stories, of characters and sets). They play out with different outcomes. Dark versus bright; large versus small; words versus forms. It’s a never-ending cycle that makes you wonder about its final outcome.

WHAT IF I JUST HAD 10 MINUTES? With its narrative anchored and then confirmed by formal elements and titles, Palpable and redemptive resembles Hans Hofmann’s Equinox. It features an exchange between a blob-like black as its tentacles consume the surface of the piece. In the upper left corner, it’s already subsumed a red rectangle. Resolution, though, is not imminent. A yellow and a blue rectangle hovers atop the picture plane. If black is despair and colors are joy, the piece suggests the Persistence of Hope over Adversity.

WHO SHOULD SEE IT? People that like profound, relatable work that visually recounts intimate stories.

THE VERDICT? A thumbs up narrative extravaganza of poetic formal elements.

HOW DO I VISIT? Gallery hours are 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. The exhibition runs until August 17. The Gallery is located at 2642 La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles 90034. For more information, call (310) 839- 1840 or visit here.


All answers no solutions (h)

All answers and no solutions.


Everywhere I look I see it (h)

Everywhere I look I see it.


Here and where you are (h)

Here and where you are.


Memory (h)






Palpable and redemptive (h)

Palpable and redemptive. 

Sea Calm (h)

Sea Calm.


The most distant horizon (h)

The most distant horizon.


A huge tree lumbering through my skull (h)

A huge tree lumbering through my skull.