"Is Modernism Really Dead" by Victoria Dalkey, Sacramento Bee. April 1999
In an era when we are supposed to have seen the death of painting and the end of modernism, it is a surprise to find [an artist] deeply engaged in the making of painterly abstractions. Laura Hohlweins stunning paintings at the Artists Contemporary Gallery were created during a 10-week residency at the prestigious Vermont Studio Center in New England. Surrounded by snow, Hohlwein says, she gravitated to light. Unlike her earlier works, which were done on glass often illuminated from within, her new paintings generate their own light. One feels in them alternatively the somber twilight of dream states and the brilliance of sun shining on snow.
It appears that Hohlwein worked partially from a kind of surreal automatism, in which the artist draws on the unconscious mind during a meditative state to form images on canvas. Hohlwein gives us exuberant gestural makings in a joyful pink and white radiance in "Hallelujah Anyway," and playful forms in mists of rich, luminous color in "Present Tense." Hidden narratives and language systems, both mathematical and linguistic, inform the cool, gray glow of "Algebra" and the brimming white and yellow light of "What Appeared To Be," which bears remnants of a poetic, elliptical text. Words, too, float through the atmosphere in "The Reading Room," an interior space swirling with muscular, musical forms. Hohlweins piece de resistance is the monumental canvas "Dream of the Wetlands," in which fantastic, phosphorescent forms, inspired by memories of night fishing off Long Island, fall in a rain reminiscent of the luxurious patterning found in art-nouveau specialist Gustav Klimpts paintings. Yet there is nothing decorative about this wonderfully ambitious canvas by an artist whose work will be exhibited at this years Florence Biennale, an international art competition.