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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

January 17, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

Michael Zwack is a New York artist whose paintings and sculptures hark back to the decoding responsibilities of Conceptualism while paying mindful dues to Post-Modernism's breakdown of the integrity of representation.

Taken more as an installation than a series of individual pieces, Zwack's photo-derived images--blurry landscapes in dry pigment, generic portraits of ethnic "warriors" awash in a golden aura of paint, a severed bronze heart atop a concrete column and a dead soldier lying face down in a "sea" of simulated concrete--create a world of non-closure, where overloaded Romantic statements are artfully stripped of significance and restored to a status of partial information: neutral, passive, yet (contradictorily) consummately appealing. Zwack's heroes become as gray as his empty landscapes, victims of a decay that encompasses a philosophy of realism as much as life itself.

Also on display is a series of painted fiberglass sculptures by Eugene Jardin, a South African artist now living in Los Angeles. Jardin's grotesque fusion of human and animal forms exploits art historical motifs drawn from Assyrian and Greek mythology (hunters and their prey), as well as Etruscan funerary sculpture. The works' overt primitivism masks an analytical undercurrent, that of expressing emotional states through an ongoing sculptural vocabulary (kinetic distortion, idiosyncratic balance and spatial parameters) as well as such archetypal concerns as power and the subconscious. The work is more successful conceptually than aesthetically, largely because Jardin cloaks his historical sources in an overly accessible Pop sensibility that tends to undermine the integrity of his vision. (Michael Kohn, 313 N. Robertson Blvd., to Feb. 8.)

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