Julia Nee Chu makes cotton-candy abstractions that suggest spring gardens or fuzzy remembrances of rolling countryside. She currently shows nine of them--in acrylic on multiple wood panels, joined in long horizontal paintings--at a gallery that recently moved here from downtown.
We're told that the artist studied Chinese brush painting in Shanghai before moving to Los Angeles and enrolling at UCLA, but her painting is so thoroughly Westernized, it's hard to see an Oriental influence beyond her delicate sensitivity. Chu's work recalls the soft side of De Kooning, stain painting and French Impressionism, as it has been assimilated by later generations. In fact, her work reverberates with so many references that it suffers from overfamiliarity, and the works themselves are repetitive.
Another problem is that these confectionary paintings seem to have no structure. It isn't true. Overlapping rectangles of soft-edged, pastel pigment form a loose variation on the modernist grid, that appears more directly in small passages. But that discovery quickly fades into our collective memory of an endless stream of similarly constructed artworks. About the only thing that sticks is the painting's airy sweetness, and that isn't enough to feed us. (Stella Polaris Gallery, 455 S. Beverly Drive, to June 22.)