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THE ART GALLERIES

Santa Monica

January 24, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

Until recently, Coleen Sterritt's totemic sculptures have followed a tightly defined, logical progression, exploring elements of geometry, the organic/industrial dichotomy of her materials, and questions of proportion and balance. From her early, top-heavy rocks, precariously balanced on tall bamboo stilts, to later, ritualistic "huts" and "vessels," Sterritt's oeuvre has been characterized by its innate tripodal form. Graceful or squat anthropomorphic legs invest the work with primitive allusions to benign shelters or enigmatic shrines bristling with menace.

Her latest sculptures and accompanying drawings mark a significant departure, replacing the tripod/vessel format with a more integrated dialectic of organic forms.

Fixall and straw-covered steel bases that resemble mutated gourds or bulbous plants "anchor" bamboo and wire screen "hods" coated in tar, each seemingly about to topple over or detach itself from its base. Whether exploring the tactile qualities of surfaces or the definition of volume and positive-negative space, Sterritt has finally synthesized classical balance with rugged, idiosyncratic kinesis. That the work is probably transitional suggests an even more radical departure to come. (Karl Bornstein Gallery, 1662 12th St., to Feb. 8.)

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