On view at Lawrence Fine Art, "Carol Sears: Linescapes" features dynamic paintings and drawings by this Los Angeles-based artist whose works achieve a distinctive painterly finesse. Sears’ iconography bounces between human and vegetal – from landscape to dreamscape – moving across the canvas with a combination of fury and euphoria. She deploys a fast moving visual alphabet of elegant loops, switchbacks, and hash marks that settle among broad stretches of color and form. Among her gestural marks, nothing is quite identifiable and yet everything feels known, as if looking into a parallel world.

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"Chantilly Lace" by Carol Sears, 2011. 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

"Chantilly Lace" by Carol Sears, 2011. 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

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Draftsmanship is central to Sears’ pictorial language and her gifts in this arena are considerable. A native of Australia, she was trained at the Julian Ashton Art School in Sydney, known for its rigorous emphasis on drawing and technical prowess. Her hand is deft and artful, and it lends to these line-defined works an effusive virtuosity.

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"Untitled 12-44" by Carol Sears. 36 x 36 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art.

"Untitled 12-44" by Carol Sears. 36 x 36 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art.

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In Untitled 10-22, fleshy orbs yield to a cluster of ribs that charge across the center of the painting. The lines coalesce in a mini explosion that appears to have ruptured the image field, as though Sears has popped through this world and into the next. Here, the observable world seems to be separated from other realities by a mere sheath of scrim under which lies a parallel universe. Moving down the canvas, scribbles fuse into agitated thickets. They wriggle in the foreground, tautly anchored in fields of thick gray-blue pigment. These areas of opacity, painted in and around Sears’ knotty lines and brisk brushwork, have the effect of mooring imagery within the composition. They also ground her swift markings with a corporeality that is figural, frank and muscular.

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"Untitled 10-22" by Carol Sears, 2010. Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

"Untitled 10-22" by Carol Sears, 2010. Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

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Here and there Sears moves quickly, and when she does her brush seems to fly across the canvas. As she lays down linear motifs, they assert themselves with a combination of Surrealist automatism and calligraphic mark-making. As they dance across broad expanses of scumbled brushwork, layers of pigment and painterly ribbons, the gestures read as both script and electrical current, as if an intravenous line connected them directly to the artist’s central nervous system.

Sears is in full swing in Untitled 11-23, a tour de force mélange of animated form, caramel color fields and bouncy shapes that conjure aspects of Arshile Gorky’s The Betrothal. But where Gorky is melancholy, Sears is ebullient. The painting feels like a caper of some kind – like organized shenanigans – and it exudes a joyful burlesque that is fresh and buoyant. Here, the artist has created a playground of positive and negative space where soft globes and sweeping gestures loop in and out of a distance ground.

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"Untitled 11-23" by Carol Sears, 2011. 72 x 72 inches.

"Untitled 11-23" by Carol Sears, 2011. 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art.

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But she understands emotional depth, too, as evidenced in Untitled 10-5, a more introverted, perhaps even somber composition. Here Sears’ marks are convulsive, scouring the surface like a cross-country skirmish – stabbing at the air and then slipping into a feverish tumult of scratchy gestural lines – a heated, passionate poem.

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"Untitled 10-5" by Carol Sears, 2010. Oil stick and graphite on canvas, 40 x 40 inches.

"Untitled 10-5" by Carol Sears, 2010. Oil stick and graphite on canvas, 40 x 40 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

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In DR-5, Sears ignites the image field with bold strokes in graphite that stretch out like fields of wheat or towering pine trees touched by a wind storm. Tactical, exhilarating lines crisscross and conjoin in facets of flatness that burst across white paper. To locate this range of pictorial depth with pencil and paper is one thing; to make it breath is quite another. Here Sears achieves both. Sometimes the simplest things tell the greatest stories.

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"DR-5" by Carol Sears, 2009. 34 x 46 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

"DR-5" by Carol Sears, 2009. 34 x 46 inches. Courtesy Lawrence Fine Art

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BASIC FACTS: "Carol Sears: Linescapes" is exhibited at Lawrence Fine Art from May 24 to June 25, 2014. The gallery is located at 37 Newtown Lane, East Hampton, NY 11937.  www.lawrence-fine-arts.com.

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