Leah Ollman reviews Michael Wingo for the LA Times 5.26.11

Michael Wingo earned his master of fine arts degree from Otis in 1967 and has worked and taught in L.A. ever since. He has exhibited too seldomly and sporadically over the last few decades to have become a familiar presence on the circuit, but a show of recent paintings at KM ought to help boost his name recognition and further his reputation as an adept formalist.

The “Squeeze Series” consists of short and wide canvases, measuring 1 foot high and up to 9 feet across. It’s handsome, consistent work, not likely to spike your blood pressure, but appealing. Wingo has set up camp somewhere between careful and playful, adopting an extreme panoramic format but approaching it with a relatively tame sensibility. He divides the space architectonically, into blocks and slivers, wedges and fins, employing an expansive palette of mint, brick, rust, lilac, sapphire, mustard, pumpkin and more. Richard Diebenkorn comes to mind, as do the so-called “abstract classicists,” hard-edge painters (particularly Lorser Feitelson and Frederick Hammersley) prominent in L.A. during Wingo’s formative years.

Arranging flat colored planes across the canvas almost like a cut-paper collage, Wingo overlaps forms but doesn’t blend them. Tensions feel contained, compositional dynamism kept simmering on low heat. Moments of real ebullience stand out, as in the jaunty, refreshing “Galoot.” Nearly the entire 9-foot width of the piece is dominated by a lime green swath, an irregular strip of buzzing color, bordered by crisp patches of cherry red, wheat, periwinkle, white and cobalt. Hues alternate between shy and gregarious, and the forms feel only partially anchored, providing a welcome spurt of energy in an otherwise pleasant, if placid show.

—Leah Ollman