Kaye and Girard recall a brighter moment at Johansson Projects

Charles Desmarais, The SF Chronicle – Datebook, December 4, 2018

“Loop Melody,” the exhibition on view at Oakland’s Johansson Projectsthrough Jan. 4, is an amusing throwback to a brighter moment in art and design. It was the time between Europe’s invention of abstraction as a sophisticated art vocabulary and North America’s discovery of a world of exotic color and whimsy at its southern doorstep. Today we call it Midcentury Modern, recognizing that “modern” is less a multipurpose adjective than a noun fixed in time.


The paintings in the show by Alexander Kori Girard are the ones most closely tied to the 1950s, with a kind of neo-calypso feel to them. I don’t mean they literally look like they are from Trinidad, where the music got its start. They have vague elements of the tropics, however, as if influenced by Caribbean, South Sea or African cultures, which people in the United States once associated with modern decor.


Rachel Kaye, the other exhibition participant, shares Girard’s lively palette and plays with tonalities that range from vivid to pastel. The super-soft technique she employs in some pictures has viewers rubbing their eyes to make sense of their position relative to any rational picture plane.