Several months ago this writer reviewed with no little enthusiasm a one-man show of paintings by Bruce Conner, a young artist whom I found to be somewhat quizzically poised between a monumentally serious attitude and a mysteriously playful one.
Both facets of Conner’s talent are currently on display in a show at the Designers’ Gallery that is much larger than the earlier one and which consequently offers a far greater area of contrast.
There is Conner the powerful limner of brooding forms that are almost romantically mystic in their impact. But most of all in this show at last there is Conner the deft manipulator of private symbols and arcane whimsies in black and white drawings, prints and other graphic media.
In my earlier review of Conner’s work I suggest that sooner or later he would have to decide “whether his art should amuse us with deftly contrived trifles or move us with serious force.” A good look at the Designers’ Gallery show, however forces me to retract that either-or statement. Because there is a certain continuity evident in Conner serious and Conner playful that would make it more likely that the artist is working toward a synthesis of the two rather than a choice between them. This would of course be nothing less than the total Conner – and I hope I’m around when that resolution takes place because I think that is is one of the most important talents that has sprung up in the Bay Area in the last few years.