Review of Mikhael Banut’s Rooted in the Bay Area (East Bay Express)


Rooted (in the Bay Area)

The Cubists and Futurists believed the automobile had accelerated human consciousness; that was nothing compared to what TV, the computer, and e-progeny like the iPod have wrought. The paintings of Mikhael Banut at the Compound Gallery comment on and reflect our contemporary free-floating, fractured consciousness while seeking some of the old organic certainty that myth and religion provide (he’s Catholic). Banut’s medium- to large-sized paintings combine charcoal, acrylic, and spray paint, so they have a hip-hop/graffiti look. But Banut sees trees as metaphors for connection, so his pictorial use of Biblical passages about trees, along with his melancholy, comical Adam and Eve figures, suggest that the mythic is now, even if it’s less than heroic or Miltonic. The expressive swirling gestures recall Munch, while the macrocosmic Tree of Life with hidden figures recalls Tchelitchew’s “Hide and Seek.” Rooted (in the Bay Area) runs through August 12 at the Compound Gallery (6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland). or 510-655-9019.

Time & Date: July 25-Aug. 13

— By DeWitt Cheng