Beau Soleil #7
Beau Soleil #7’s title (translated as Beautiful Sun) gives a good sense of its effect. By virtue of a grid of dots, slightly different in size and placement, a subtle shimmering is created. In readily showing its effect as an image of light, the work exists between abstraction and representation—and perhaps points to the folly of such a distinction—rows and columns of spots become the dawn breaking through thick morning air.
Stephen Beal is a painter and the current president of California College of the Arts. His paintings are all-over patterns, resembling textiles or enlarged reproductions of printing technologies. In this sense, they seem to offer a bridge between Roy Lichtenstein’s hand-painted Ben-Day dots and modernist paintings’ dissolution of the distinction between figure and ground. However, Beal’s handling of paint gives his works a much more painterly quality than the crisp op and pop art his work initially resembles.