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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

March 14, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

The exquisite forms depicted in work by Alan Magee seem to hover in some airless limbo. There's an unsettling absence of sense of place about his work, which attempts to illuminate the simple perfection of commonplace things. Stones, pears, gourds and cherries are shown bathed in an otherworldly glow, light and texture slightly enhanced, objects arranged just so. Magee is a formidable draftsman and this exhibition, which includes watercolors, paintings, monotypes and silverprints, is a tour de force of perfect rendering--perfect enough, in fact, that the work verges on Photo-Realism. As in still lifes by trompe-l'oeil master William Harnett, these pristine tableaux seem vacuum-sealed and untouched by human hands. Magee left a successful career as an illustrator to pursue his muse, and his past life occasionally rears its head in his current work. His pictures sometimes go a wee bit academic; lacking the juice of inspiration, they shrivel to the scale of an illustration in a scientific journal. That Magee makes his home in Maine is also apparent; his pictures have an astringent tang that's peculiar to New England. This is not to imply, however, that he shrinks from granting nature the sensuality that it's been blessed with. He invests the lowly gourd with voluptuous curves worthy of an Ingres nude, and his slightly overripe cherries are naughty as Lolita. (Mekler Gallery, 651 N. La Cienega Blvd., to April 30.)

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