“Yellow Pages,” Brian Haefling’s solo show of paintings on the ground floor, and an immersive installation that fills the entire upstairs gallery, will be on view at Oakland’s Good Mother Gallery for just another week. Haefling’s paintings, filled with colorful and intricate patterns, turn into intriguing exercises in repetitious imagery that survey intrinsic meanings behind the symbols and signs illustrated. Abstracted work in turn also become interesting explorations in traditional mark-making, done in unconventional, contemporary ways.
Downstairs, Haefling’s suite of large-scale paintings reveal a two-fold practice that includes a journey into ideas surrounding images, symbols, and qualities of paint and surface in both abstract and figurative work. In one work a series of skulls drawn on a light blue ground buttressed against a red polka dot-like cloud are in turn seemingly propped up by various towering white and black brick walls, which create a visually complex reading in texture, figure, and composition. Layers of figurative elements appearing over and over blur and obfuscate into mere abstractions. Amid sprays and drips of complementary colors in one of Haefling’s more abstracted work, black specks repetitiously dotted vertically along the surface create a jarring schism from the bright colors in the paint field, and the surface, instead of a richly textured one, looks more worn and purposefully subdued. Upstairs, the mood changes considerably. Toy-like police cars simply fashioned from cardboard or other elemental materials, and constructed with painted tape lie in a heap; flames painted on the walls suggest a fiery inferno. Behind and surrounding the scene, dozens of unflinching eyes watch apathetically, suggesting their culpability, or at least a tangential involvement. Thee cartoon-like aesthetics comically embellish an illustration of a difficult reality.