Baila Goldenthal : Reviews

Goldenthal's work is ever in the midst of some metamorphosis or another, a fitting state of ambiguity for art that mines mythology and religious traditions.

At times, the art is literally coming apart at the seams as in "Walls of Prophecy," a hybrid concoction in which the canvas is torn, and boards jut out from the surface. The twin forces of prophecy and fate seem locked in conflict, upsetting the status quo. In "Eros and Psyche," a bust and torso are apparently undergoing a struggle of transformation or power.

Her other art on view heads in divergent directions, from the Renaissance-influenced approach of the "Weaver Series" of paintings to the Ruscha-like strategy of the "Alphabet Series," which literally spells out the themes – EROS, BIRTH, DEATH.

~Josef Woodard, Los Angeles Times, 1998

Goldenthal, working in collage and mixed-media sculpture, draws from both historical and religious sources to create modeled forms of impressive intensity. Her "Urban Walls" series utilizes wood – boards, splintered crates and scraps – as large collages. "Urban Wall #3" is typical with its low-keyed palette of brown and gray tones, its roughhewn boards salvaged from a fence or packing crate, and its suggestion of simultaneous frontal and aerial perspective; so is the splintered wood of #2, an Urban Wall rent in half.

In the "Desert Walls" series, the materials used are tile, brick and plaster with small photos of doors or windows occasionally adding a touch of trompe l'oeil. I found these collages more to my taste, particularly "Desert Wall #4" with straw and steel mesh suggestive of pueblos; or #3, a crumbling ruin of decorated mini-tiles that reminded me of the Mission Inn before restoration.

Goldenthal's selections from her "Antiquity" and "Head" series of sculptures in mixed media are fraught with references to mythology or religion. She models her forms, some with considerable vigor, others with the appeals of delicate sensitivity.

Her classical gods were my preference, particularly the double head of "Eros and Psyche" with its enigmatic masks, and the tragic calm of "Orpheus and Eurydice" who appeared to dissolve into each other.

~Mary Alice Cline, The Press-Enterprise, 1989

Loyola Law School's enthusiasm over its now postmodern buildings designed by Frank Gehry has led to an ambitious art program. Headed by Ellie Blankfort, it includes a burgeoning permanent art collection, several commissions for public art and a space that doubles as student lounge and art gallery. The current offering here is a show titled "The Spiritual Eye: Religious Imagery in Contemporary Los Angeles Art"....

Baila Goldenthal's delimbed and brutalized "Blue Jesus" is so tortured an image it could make a pagan weep...

~Stace Aspey, Artweek, 1985

In honor of the Olympics, the Senior Eye Gallery has mounted an ambitious five-artist exhibition entitled "The Olympian Spirit." Spirit is the single attribute uniting these diverse works, and it surfaces in many forms.

Balia Goldenthal creates dramatic painted wall constructions of fabric, canvas and gesso on jagged wooden stretcher bars that mesmerize the viewer. What are these dynamic allusive things? Spellbound, we step closer and see fabric streaked with color that is draped, wrapped, stretched and hanging from bare frames or broken strips of wood. A story is being told. We sense something important is being said, but we can't put our finger on exactly what it is. Full of mystery, these jagged studs and faded folds haunt us. They have quiet power and hushed spiritual content.

We see the remains of something once lovely that has been destroyed. We sense that something valued and fragile has died. This is theatrical imagery in every positive sense of the word... the theater of mind, idea and emotion. It is not only allusive, it is illusionary with trompe l'oeil (to trick the eye) painting mirroring the folded fabric.

Perhaps Goldenthal's images depict the certain coming down of all things gentle, sensitive and tender – aesthetics of beauty that no longer exist. Perhaps they hint of fallen civilizations and cultures... Renaissance folds, spirit and perspective. (Standing before them, I couldn't get Winged Victory out of my mind, nor unfurled fallen flags.) Whatever she feels, her strong dramatic constructions suggest memories of things past, broken dreams and childhood loss of innocence.

~Shirle Gottlieb, Press-Telegram, 1984

An exhibition of paintings and assemblages by Baila Goldenthal at the Brand Library Art Gallery contains several series of works done over the past few years. They trace the development, expansion and exploration of ideas, increasingly using the tangibility of materials to express the less tangible concepts of the passage of time and subconscious associations.

Beginning with the symbolic abstract paintings of the Numbers series and Poeticus, the show moves to the romantic and decorative phase of Gold Leaf Series and then presents the most recent phase of Goldenthal's work, the Iberian Suite and Gestures in which sculptural relief becomes the dominant element. The earlier work deals primarily with color, abstract symbolism and ethereal illusionistic space. The last pieces in the Poeticus series begin to incorporate collaged sections of richly patterned brocades, lace and gold leaf, leading to the ornate works of the Gold Leaf Series.

These newer works are direct, stripped of an earlier romanticism; they have a dynamic emotional impact as they reveal the essence of their conception, idea and structure. The passion of the artist is reflected in her ability to portray experience abstractly through these tangible esthetic forms.

~Linda Jacobson, Artweek, 1982

Baila Goldenthal's work at the University of Judaism is profoundly influenced by the culture and philosophy of India, where she lived and studied, and her paintings reflect her involvement with the mysticism of Indian religion as well as with the esoteric Judaic mysticism of the kabala. Triptych (acrylic and gold leaf on paper), Goldenthal creates an image that disintegrates in order to reveal. There are three panels, each of a different color. As the work is read from left to right, the first is orange nd contains a large gold-leaf rectangle. Throughout the second (purple) and third ( blue) panels the gold breaks up and dissolves in order to expose the pure color beneath. In the last panel pure color remains – only pure essence exists – a result of Goldenthal's belief that through destruction comes creation.

~Linda Jacobson, Artweek, 1980

artwork ©Baila Goldenthal all rights reserved