Max Cole: "Terra Firma": Art Review


Through Feb. 12 at Haines Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), S.F. Free; 397-8114 or

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Full of repeated strips and lines, Max Cole's abstract paintings are exquisite and even hypnotic. Get too close to pieces like Flow or Gradient, and dizziness can set in. What sets in more: the realization that Cole — like Mark Rothko — is a master at creating heightened works from seemingly simple forms. Many of Cole's paintings at Haines Gallery hew to a muted color scheme: lots of grays, blacks, browns, and whites. It's the horizontal patterns that give the canvases their indisputable sway. In Dusk, Flyover, Early Morning, Winter Solstice, and Winter Marsh, the outer bands are solid colors, while the middle sections feature a forest of bristlelike vertical lines; thicker perpendicular lines — each one wavering from its expected straightness — add a further dimension to these works. Cole's paintings re-create moments of sight, sound, and wonder — transitory moments that are always so difficult to hold onto.

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