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THE GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

March 22, 1985|WILLIAM WILSON

One good thing about Neo-Expressionism, its ingredients are easily reduced to a recipe which, given the skill, one might cook oneself. Markus Lupertz provides a particularly clear example in nine recent paintings. Lupertz comes across as the Mannerist of German Neo-Ex, cranking out impressive pictures long on Sturm but replacing Drang with allusions. He doesn't so much emote as call forth the shades of artists who used to.

His largest works like "Cheryl aus Baltimore" are dark-toned mixtures of old Die Bruecke iconography with Abstract Expressionist scale and Cubist architecture. He calls up the pioneer Germans' fascination with dark-skinned people as symbols of primitive emotions rather than expressing those emotions. What is actually communicated here are the pleasures of cleverness, style and internationalism. Lupertz appears to get his biggest kick out of inserting a Tamayo-like watermelon slice in "P.L. Rote Messe" or painting Central Park like a Tyrolean village about to be devoured by the surrounding foliage.

Five smaller heads have separate titles but read like a high-spirited collaborative series by Picasso and Francis Bacon. Lupertz's most impressive qualities are those of a master vaudeville impersonator who can disguise himself as Eric von Stroheim while singing a Kurt Weill song in the voice of Lotte Lenya sounding like an old 78 rpm record. (Weinberg Gallery, 619 N. Almont Drive, to April 13.)

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