What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

August 29, 2019

Leo Mock
… And Still Somehow
June 21 - August 30, 2019

Leo Mock

The paintings in Leo Mock's exhibition, ... And Still Somehow are a curious blend of landscape and figuration. Within each beautifully painted image is a jarring interruption that sends what appears at first glance to be traditional landscapes, into the realm of the absurd. In Try to pretend it's true, (all works 2019) two gangly, bright blue appendages bisect the painted environs. These disembodied legs are neither human nor animal, yet sign for the presence of someone or something traipsing through the darkly textured and striated landscape, below a cloud-filled sky. Like alien forms descended from a foreign planet, each of Mock's paintings hosts quasi-personified forms that inhabit these natural scenes. The landscapes depict receding plains filled with different bands of color, abstracted mountains and clouds that are more surreal than real.

On the surface of Your mad parade, Mock has drawn ten sets of long pink-toned oil-stick lines that descend from the top of the painting and then angle to the right becoming legs and feet that inhabit the ground of the composition. These appendages are surprisingly static, as if stopped mid-flow to take in the landscape before continuing on an unknown journey. As Mock indicates, they are part of a "mad parade," yet the who, what and why remain a mystery.

Mock's philosophical titles direct the interpretation of the work. In A thought that never changes, small billowing and majestic clouds appear to glide across the top portion of the composition in front of a long spindly leg and foot that belongs to an invisible body (picture a bird with long, long legs) that parallels the side and bottom of the canvas, intersecting with another leg facing the opposite direction. This second "leg" is connected to a circular form that floats toward the top of the image. There is an implied relationship between the two forms, as one appears to lean against the other, yet their place and raison d'etre in the landscape are never articulated.

Mock's surfaces are seductive. His colors subdued. The works emanate a sense of calm as well as foreboding. Are the landscapes apocalyptic or just fantastical? The seven paintings that make up the exhibition, ... And Still Somehow, seem to work in concert with each other to present a sense of place drawn from the worlds of science fiction and classical painted landscapes.