Dmitri Cavander’s paintings are easy to like. The artist, who has a show at MPG Contemporary, is fluid and easy with his brush, and deals in giddy contrasts of warm sunlight and cool shadow. Some of these can be formulaic, but Cavander’s deftness always wins out. It draws you into a work such as Cavendish, VT., which sets us inside, with the afternoon glow pouring through a window, gazing at the chill of the snow outside. Lemony tones of sunlight dance with blueberry shadows on the ground in the distance. It’s well done, but predictably structured.
The most interesting painting in the show, Agave, throws formula to the wind. Cavander fills the foreground with the burning gold-green succulent, which delightfully crowds out other, more signature elements, such as the architectural shuffle of dormers and eaves in the rooftop below. The painting gives way to a wide expanse of beach and sea in the background. It’s a wonderful setup, moving from the commanding foreground to the empty background, and far less systematic than most of Cavander’s works.