4 April 2008 6:05 PM
Snarky, tart little girls keep walking in and out of Laurel Panella’s paintings. Mostly they snub or otherwise dis whoever else happens to be hanging around the picture plane: plaintive men in dark suits, handsome jugglers, gloomy swashbuckling types. Sometimes, when there’s no one to ignore, they just stand around, pretty but dazed, as if unsure where to direct their energy. In other canvases the gauzy, patterned fields that serve as the girls’ occasional background take over completely, forming non-objective experiments in mark making, style, and color. The tension between figuration and abstraction, an anxiety seemingly held in check by the fierce little misses themselves, is thematized in an icky green-and-bubblegum-pink number where a hot young thang in her mini-dress leers at a blobby figurine, just daring it to dissipate further into formlessness. She knows the power of having a figure, it seems.