David Park is an artist who, had he lived another 20 years, would have been what de Kooning became. He began as yet another WPA-style realist in the mold of Paul Cadmus or Thomas Hart Benton, went into the AbEx sector briefly, but then returned, triumphant, to figuration and produced some incredibly important paintings in the 1950s, before falling to cancer in 1960. The work Four Women is about as remarkable as they come for Park. It is a staid piece, reserved, quiet. There is a sense, as in much of Park's work from 1955 or so, of Picasso's less cubistic works, of a primitivism that being abstracted from with an active brushstroke style. There is less of the stoicism of the Bay Area Figurativists of the time here, but no less a sense of ennui. In fact, this appears to be a painting about boredom, about allowing the colors that define four quadrants of the painting speak while the figures ignore it all for a distanced quiet introspection. The figures are not the focus of this painting; the focus is the color field work they are posed in front of.
And perhaps that is the message of Bay Area Figurativism of the 1950s. Diebenkorn & co. may well have been saying that they were putting the figure in front, but at same time that it is not the execution of these figures that was important. What was important was that it was the same expression of the Abstract Expressionists, only using a recognisable form to gather the viewer in so that they can latch.
Christopher J Garcia - Curator, Fan Writer, Podcaster, and a guy who just loves art.