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Monique van Genderen at Susanne Vielmetter

by David Pagel

The size of Monique van Genderen’s paintings on linen and aluminum panel dwarf visitors to her exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects in Culver City.

Four giant paintings run from one inch above the gallery floor to within one inch of the top of the 14-foot walls. Each of the untitled works is 6½ feet wide.

Ten paintings are hung side by side so that you can see the sweeping gestures van Genderen has made with rags, rollers and mops. The suite measures more than 40 feet long and 8 feet tall. A large part of a wall had to be removed so that this freight train of a painting could hang on a single wall. The jagged edges of the removed section attest to the power of this abstract landscape, whose 10 panels, lined up like boxcars, seem go on forever.

But size isn’t everything. Scale is more important. And van Genderen handles it with aplomb, grace and honesty. The relationship between her works and your body leaves no room for experiences of subjugation or domination.

Although her paintings are abstract, they are not expressive. None seeks to lay bare her inner life or to reveal the psychodynamics of her identity. She does not paint portraits, self- or otherwise.

The marks van Genderen makes in her paintings, and the colors she chooses to do so, come off as if they just happened. The paintings play out like the weather: a complex of forces whose beauty — and power — is beyond human control and bigger than any of us.

Individually and as a group, they sweep you up in their movements, sometimes carrying you off in a torrent of liquid energy and at other times thrusting you skyward, as if caught in an updraft, or plummeting you downward, deep into the sea.

The soul expands to fill the expanses van Genderen has laid out in her compositions and suggested beyond their edges. More feminine and more powerful than art that hews to individual egos, hers sets its sights on something bigger and better — and then throws us into it.