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THE GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

March 15, 1985|WILLIAM WILSON

Takako Yamaguchi, who divides her time between L.A. and Paris, joins a fairly numerous little line of Japanese-American artists who blend traditional Oriental styles with a contemporary Occidental sensibility. The most respected and truly distinctive of them is, of course, Masami Teraoka, who impersonates the Japanese genre print to devastating satirical effect.

Yamaguchi's variations on this practice are architectural landscapes painted on paper that subtly update the highly artificialized gold-ornamented screens of the Momoyama period, in some ways Japan's version of the Baroque. (Examples of the real thing can be seen in the County Museum of Art's current exhibition, "Japanese Ink Painting.")

In style, Yamaguchi's work, with its arabesque water and geometric clouds, harks back to that of Ogata Korin, who in turn appears to anticipate Art Nouveau. That accounts for Yamaguchi's Japanese and French connections (the latter also underlined by the exhibition title, "Le Temps Mele"). L.A. is probably accounted for by the paintings' ill-concealed symbolism. The landscape is permeated with swift-swimming sperm shapes, far-darting phallus forms and erupting volcanoes. They keep the art from being entirely decorative and infuse it with a brand of sexual neurosis that has come to seem rather engagingly naive. (Jan Baum Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., to March 30.)

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