This month's group show at Pulliam Deffenbaugh presents new work from Portland native Yoshihiro Kitai as well as Kathryn Van Dyke and Sian Oblak, who participated in last year's sprawling Bay Area Bazaar show. The work of these three artists share few similarities, but it's all consistent with the gallery's aesthetic of cool, sleek abstractions.
The least compelling of the artists on display is Van Dyke, whose updated version of drip painting is easy on the eyes, but hardly inspires critical contemplation. In "Yellow, Wired and Digital," drips race down the length of the linen canvas, mingling with sagging loops that, prompted by the piece's title, conjure the wires on the inside of a machine. Rendered in barely there hues, including soft yellows and pinks, the work's composition is interrupted by a yellowish rectangle featuring a Klimt-like mosaic of colored squares in the middle of the piece.
Kitai's works, on the other hand, are far more engaging. In "Untitled Triptych (Wave 2)," a rolling silver leaf form stretches 12 feet along the bottom of the three panels, catching slivers of light in the leaf's subtle folds. While the title implies that the form is some sort of silver tsunami, it looks as much like a billowing cloud. Kitai fills the space behind the silver leaf with clusters of shaded circles that also seem to float like clouds.
Introductions' most intriguing work though is Oblak's, which seems to undo space and perspective in a way that conjures de Chirico, while remaining far more abstract. Nearly all of these modestly sized paintings employ the same motifs: meticulously shaded fabrics and ribbons, gestural brushstrokes that create a dynamic sense of underlying movement, and oblong blocks of solid color that seem to hover on the surface of each painting. While these elements confound a viewer's ability to process depth and dimension, they also manage, at times, to trigger a kind of representational interpretation. In "CB2 (Reading Magdalen)," a hood appears to wrap the head of a figure who simply isn't there, but still convincingly evokes the presence of the titular subject. Such an effect is a real compositional coup, as Oblak uses such beguiling and sparing means to convey so much.