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Gracie DeVito’s works at Overduin & Co. are worn, and just so. DeVito’s paintings have the air of patterned fabric left out in the sun, or the ghostly, faded detail of aged vellum from some medieval parchment. We all love work like this at some point or another—vague but layered, in a perennially stylish way, and sweetly engaging when the light is right. In DeVito’s paintings, tone and shape lazily languish, prizing feeling and sense over representation, though the latter emerges, here and there (see the statuary faces of Bookies in the Garden, all works 2019). Her elliptical exhibition title, Motion Picture Seaweed, is elliptically fitting, as her work seems a kind of motion picture soundtrack—background music that can be either stirring or anemic when divorced from the moving image. DeVito finds occasional areas of focus—the lacy shadows of Mid-City Romance, the organic, kaleidoscoping linework of Father Gin—that offset and ground the overall diffusion, and comprise a perfectly lovely painting show; if you’re in the mood for one.
Motion Picture Seaweed, in title and in content, conjures watery impressions. DeVito’s paintwork is shallowly layered: Mediterranean Ouroboros’ blue background reads as some warm, thin layer of water beneath a muddled surface of icy leaves. Aside from more straightforward, rectilinear works, DeVito sometimes plays with the shape of her pieces, painting on cotton or canvas over supports shaped into cartoony, meandering parallelograms, and, as in Local Retreat, directly over contoured panel. These irregularly shaped pieces suggest linens deforming along a wave, and ride the line between evocative and tentative. The skeletal lines of Mid-City Romance hint at perspective, undergirding its sketchy blooms of organic color; its neighbor, Mother of Curls, meanwhile, has an unfinished quality an inch away from just being a mess. Machiavelli Heart Break, an unstretched, stained, and embellished painter’s rag, dispenses with backing altogether. Its location on a gallery wall in the transition between rooms gives it short but substantial distance from the works surrounding it, whose intentionality is more apparent.
In the gallery’s second, main room, three larger pieces succinctly run the gamut from middling to atmospheric. Motion Picture Seaweed, Pond Synth, and Three Day Cleanse each offer hints of landscape, playing with allusions to light, fog, and flora without committing to sharp definition beyond the occasional leaf. As such, the differences between Pond Synth (which is lovely), and Three Day Cleanse (which is dull), are elusive things to tease out. Pond Synth’s densely rendered white fog, offset by about as much specificity as you’re likely to encounter here, in the form of leafy, crisscrossing vines, holds your attention simply by balancing clarity with haze. Three Day Cleanse, on the other hand, comes off as both rushed and overworked—squiggles and patches of varying color vie for attention without quite cohering into atmosphere. DeVito’s work at Overduin crisscrosses the border between intriguing and underbaked (non-representational painting often runs this risk), still, there is an appreciative hush to Motions Picture Seaweed on the whole.
Gracie DeVito: Motion Picture Seaweed runs February 8–March 28, 2020 at Overduin & Co. (6693 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028).