Reader review: Larry Roots’ work shows artist’s evolution

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January 4th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Larry Roots: New Work and Selections from the Last Decade shows the breadth and evolution of the artist as a painter and sculptor. The exhibit opens at Modern Arts Midtown Thursday night. The Reader’s Sally Deskins has this review.

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"The Critic" by Larry Roots, 2007. (Photo courtesy the artist. Click to enlarge)

“The Critic” was the last piece Larry Roots introduced me to a few weeks before the show opened, and also my favorite. The obvious connection between the 7-foot tall bronze figure and myself is endearing, of course, to my role as a public commentator of art, his in particular at the moment.

But, the elongated being, reminiscent of Giacometti’s figures, also bore humor—his reposed stance with arms folded, as if pompously all-knowing.

Roots isn’t known for his sculpture, but for his large-scale textural abstract paintings. But what is reminiscent in this sculpture, as in his paintings, are his expressive marks, his noted artistic process for investigating the unexpected.

A large, white-based piece, “Extrapolation,” intentionally reveals his signature cryptic markings with black lines and strokes that sometimes form letters and symbols scattered throughout the canvas. In other pieces the markings are more subtle, but still meaningful, as in his “Causation Series” of vast dark spaces of color, with textured markings noticeable at assorted points of the surface.

"Enough is Enough" by Larry Roots, 2008. (Photo courtesy the artist. Click to enlarge)

“Enough is Enough” is a sizeable, mostly white painted acrylic on canvas with a sometimes solid sometimes obscure dramatic dark line. And it reels you in forcing you to ponder its impervious simplicity.

In works like this, where his markings are most distinctive, his artistic philosophy and innate process are most telling.

My only critique of the show, which is meant to present his revolution over the last ten years, is that he doesn’t get gritty with us—how did he get from “Extrapolation” to “Enough is Enough?” What do his sketchbooks or notebooks look like—what are his thoughts and literal process from one to another?

"Extrapolation" by Larry Roots, 2007. (Photo courtesy the artist. Click to enlarge)

Roots’ own studio is in the back of the gallery; visitors are welcome to stop-by his workspace and it is ideal that they do—since his process is so important to his final product, it is only necessary that it works into this exhibit of his progression as an artist.

To be sure, his work does somehow successfully stand alone, almost forever elegantly a finished work-in-progress.

Critique for yourself at Modern Arts Midtown. The show opens Thursday, Jan. 5, and runs through Jan. 31.

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