The Autumn Season Has Begun

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Autumn has arrived with a burst of exhibitions in galleries all over the city.

San Francisco based British photographer Michael Kenna, who regularly shows at the Craig Krull Gallery, presents recent photographs of Easter Island. Celebrated for his series of small black and white photos of European royal gardens, Kenna uses his faultless compositional skill to show elegantly detached images of Easter Island, a place that usually makes travelers hyperventilate. His photographs continue to be seductive with their endless nuances of black and white, and make one feel that time stands still.

At Patricia Faure Gallery, Salomon Huerta's intimate drawings show the head of a woman laying on her back, with her face seen in profile. There is an element of uncertainty in the way the artist handles the subject, as if still mindful of a strict teacher watching over his shoulder. What intrigued me is the emotional subtlety of all these portraits depicting the same woman; the expression in her eyes is so complex and fluid, it completely unnerved me.

At Hunsaker/Schlesinger Fine Art, there is an impressive show of recent paintings by Raymond Saunders, a veteran of the San Francisco art scene. As is his custom, the artist often uses scraps of paper and other found objects to give his paintings on wood panels especially rich, complex feelings. Deep, black backgrounds of his paintings reveal explosive graffiti-like images next to delicate, whispering outlines of flowers. Raymond Saunders' art is an impressive testimony of his indomitable spirit and long journey contemplating racism, religion, poverty, sex and death. Whatever lesson he may learn, preaching is not his thing.

At the Frank Lloyd Gallery, L.A. based sculptor, Jun Kaneko, captures the viewer's attention with his unique brand of showmanship. Huge, glazed ceramic sculptures intimidate with their bulk, but their shiny smooth surfaces and rich colors of glaze turn these ceramic giants into seductive magic talismans. Noteworthy is a series of small scale sculptures demonstrating a variety of shapes, from abstract to realistic. My favorite is a white glazed sculpture which consists of a few book-like objects standing on a shelf made of the same clay and white glaze.

At the Christopher Grimes Gallery, David Ireland, yet another veteran of the San Francisco art scene, shows his idiosyncratic sculptures made from found objects rescued from obscurity: glass cabinets filled with various items, a wash basin with thick grey felt hanging on its rack instead of white towels. For my taste, Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys - his obvious sources of inspiration - loom too much on the horizon to make his sculptures sufficiently original.

Known as a sculptor, environmental artist, archaeologist, designer, architect, and historian, David Ireland nevertheless expresses himself most successfully as a painter whose modest yet enigmatic paintings allude to complex situations and experiences. His abstract compositions vary from monochromatic to geometric abstraction which evoke the spirit of Richard Diebenkorn, without sacrificing its own originality.