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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

May 24, 1985|WILLIAM WILSON

A painting of a jaguar in Raul Guerrero's show includes distilled forms worthy of a Hockney. Trouble is, they are so badly deployed that their clarity goes for nothing. Guerrero paints fantasies about ancient pre-Columbian art. Sometimes they get mixed up with thoughts about culture shock as in "Desire," where a brown-skinned nude girl confronts the cool marble contours of the Venus di Milo. Sometimes they lapse into sexual longing as in "The Last Dream," where a nude floats among images of the famous "Laughing Heads" of Veracruz.

Judged both by its ambitious reach for cultural myth and sense of personal obsession, this work ought to be interesting. That it finally loses our attention is partly due to dogged and pedestrian rendering that looks like the work of a folk artist half-trained to be an illustrator. Even that is less a problem than awkward spatial compositions. Their garbled kitsch appearance may pass for fashionable at the moment, but bad's bad.

On the up side, Guerrero can resolve most of his shortfalls simply by taking a few hard looks at Hockney, Gauguin and Rousseau. (Richard Kuhlenschmidt Gallery, 9000 Melrose Ave., to June 16.)

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