Inconsistency Pays Off

Ryder Night I
Cornelia Schulz’s “A Change in the Weather” (2001).

Inconsistency pays off
Cornelia Schulz’s technical finesse links diverse work

By Kenneth Baker

Too often artists preparing for a show will worry their work into a false consistency. Bay Area painter Cornelia Schulz has resisted this temptation in her new work at Sweetow.

Multiple canvases or panels make up many of the pieces. Schulz frequently pours on them pools of alkyd that pucker in fine vermicular patterns as they dry. Thin washes of black help bring up these relief details.

Jostling such areas, where the material itself seems to do the work, Schulz paints flat, even shapes, like the heavy black ovals in “A Change in the Weather” (2001).

In some pictures, such as “Cellular Level” (2001), overlapping pools of paint suggest a microbial reference. But the predominantly black and gold “A Change in the Weather” brings to mind the depiction of clouds and kimono in classic Japanese screens.

In other pieces, Schulz sets passages of brightly colored brushwork among collisions of drawn and poured abstract profiles, with mixed success.

Sustained technical finesse makes the inconsistency of Schulz’s paintings appear brave and restless rather than erratic.