Before his untimely death in 1985, Don Sorenson ran through styles and media with an aggressive curiosity that was called dilitantism or a mid-career crisis. Whether he was painting his less popular classical figures, executing masks after Wagnerian opera characters or painting the painstaking zigzags we know best, Sorenson made each idea his own by taking it through every possible nuance of structure and expression. Before long, what ever he worked on was infused with the same obsessive, honest energy that drove him.
When it first appeared, the zigzag motif was an occasional accent. Over his career, Sorenson developed and explained the mark until zigzag works painted just before his death, greatly elongated and lusciouslu hued theunderbolts jut out from opposite sides of the canvas, interlocking and colliding in the middle ina way that makes you think of hard-edge art on amphetamines. The effective oppositions— formal and philosophical— that came so easily to Sorenson are finely tuned here.
We expect order from such obviously planned geometry, but we get something close to pandemonium; we expect coll reserve and end up with a sense of exubernance and spontaneity close in feel and visual impact to the intuitive marks in Abstract Expressionism. For a final touch of tension, pure dribbles of pigment ooze between each comgested matrix, as if the very guts of painting couldn't help but squeeze through all the tight tongued theory. Sorenson was high, and the drug was art.
(Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery, 812 N. La Cienga Blvd., to Feb. 17.