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"Around the Galleries: Significant Work on Insignificance”

Leah Ollman

Los Angeles Times

Friday, Dec. 12, 2003

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Marina Moevs’ paintings remind us of what we already know but prefer not to dwell on: that our safety on this Earth is precarious, that nature’s force can mean everything to us, but that we register as nothing to it.


The paintings at Koplin Del Rio Gallery are undeniably beautiful, but it’s a complex beauty, threaded through with violence and destruction.  Storms build with ominous force on the horizon.  Homes are reduced to splinters.  After the recent Southern California fires, Moevs’ “Fire III” touches an especially raw nerve.


A large lushly rendered oil, it depicts a street that curves uphill toward houses and trees in flames.  The fire burns white in places and shades the sky that all-too-familiar reddish-gray and dense, acid black.


Like most of the paintings here, this one positions us as immediate witnesses, as if encountering this scene upon returning home.  Like the best of the group, it’s large enough (78-by-48 inches) to feel encompassing.


In “Across the Street” the storm danger has passed, leaving one picture-perfect suburban home compromised and its neighbor devastated.  Again, Moevs situates us as observers on the safe side of disaster, but close enough to feel its reverberations personally.


Wreckage crisscrosses the street like a scattering of toothpicks, extending to our own feet.  Here, in this exhausted, shocked silence, vulnerability makes room for awe.