Tom Stanton ought to do a portrait of Savonarola. The legendary Italian religious zealot would feel right at home in this body of work which focuses on saints and sinners writhing about in some hellish-looking grotto. Working on a ground that appears as if it might've been pieced together out of hunks of tree bark, Stanton paints with a dark, oily touch reminiscent of Goya and El Greco, and his work has the quality of ancient religious icons. At the same time, it seems distinctly modern--some things are timeless, I suppose, the idea of sin being one.
Sin is most definitely a central theme in a number of these paintings, which seem to be polluted with a clammy fleshiness that's almost kinky. "One Cut Like Ribbons," for instance, puts one in mind of "Laocoon"; we see a mass of tangled limbs and gargoyle faces with mouths spewing geysers of white fluid in this nasty piece of business. As in work by Francis Bacon, Stanton's figures often seem in a state of torment; the murky mood combined with the visceral way Stanton paints suggests that he feels that the route to heaven surely can't be found through the flesh.
On view in an adjoining gallery are seven wall-mounted sculptures by Ann Page, shown as a complement to a major installation on view at Pepperdine University through March 28. Incorporating paper, string, netting and lightweight wood, Page's colorful fancies have the delicacy and charm of lace petticoats; that she's able to take her work to a very large scale and maintain its central quality of weightless fragility is a mark of her talent. (Space, 6015 Santa Monica Blvd., to April 5.)