BY Collier Schorr in Reviews | 06 MAR 95
Featured in
Issue 21

David Deutsch

BY Collier Schorr in Reviews | 06 MAR 95

For reasons having more to do with sweeping greens than the colour red or a metallic sheen, David Deutsch's landscape paintings remind me of Lockerbie. Their camouflage haze of oily green demands, like a lacy garment, to be looked through, scrutinised and hunched over. So looking is looking for a stray this or that, a tell-tale sign, an explanation for the cover-up.

When that Pan Am 747 went down, the serene villagers of Lockerbie were called upon as witnesses. The tales they told, of fireballs bursting in mid air and the flashes of the silver carcass splintering, embodied the most fantastic, Icarean disaster. Through all the media coverage - all the sweeping panoramic shots of rolling green hills and pretty paths - l had a recurring vision of this thunderstorm of torsos and luggage and shiny bits of plane. The television habitually doled out images of the ground and the sky but, like Deutsch's landscape, all I saw was the blur of property lines and varying shades of green: the view before everything becomes clearly recognisable and compartmentalised.

Wendy's and McDonald's are swaddled in misty grass. Golden arches and the beautiful blues of swimming pools radiate. A three tiered luxury liner skids unobtrusively across the grass. The necessities stand out - the rest is covered over. A fuzzy, brushy circle stroke has crossed the vista; it is an incessant painted doodle that removes or just disguises emptiness. The technique accomplishes an odd combination of smoothing and thinning out and layering and covering up: hiding one thing in order to make a feature of another. The landscapes - which are painted on panoramic rectangular canvases that seem to arch or bow due to the rhythmic sweeping of a brush from left to right - tremor. Deutsch's containment of the land, a post-Willa Cather battle for control, is a tense exercise in separating civilisation from its civilisers. The builders and inhabitants are lifted out of their territory and painted as framed pictures hung on domed ceilings. Hundreds of blank faces appear to be relics, arcane figures that have been shelved somewhere along the line.

Deutsch's paintings enlist the floral visions of Shelly and Wordsworth and other poets that located the world between the petals of nature and within the soil. The beautiful post-folk paintings of Robert Greene come to mind because both painters have an unnatural relationship with the landscape. Greene's large portrait of the American flag spread across the length of a park is as suffocating as the blur of Deutsch's paint as it methodically envelops much of what is man-made.

Collier Schorr is an artist and photographer based in New York, USA.