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THE ART GALLERIES

Santa Monica

April 11, 1986|COLIN GARDNER

Brian Hollister makes his commercial gallery debut with a series of abstract paintings inspired by the canyon landscapes of the Southwest. These vertical, broadly gestural works in impastoed acrylics combine frontal perspective with rawly etched outlines, conjuring up images of crags, pinnacles, ravines and heavily striated rock formations. Vibrant reds, greens and browns are offset by pale, almost pastel color fields that resemble a cross between the formal concerns of Richard Diebenkorn and the more "spiritual" metaphors of Clyfford Still.

The work is most successful on a purely painterly level, nicely balancing formalism with expressionism, and employing impasto as a structural device rather than arbitrary indulgence. Less convincing are Hollister's attempts to evoke the intangible essences of his environments. Judging from such titles as "Messiaenic," "Ode to Joy" and "Ascension," Hollister seems to be using landscape and painting as metaphors for emotional states, a dubious practice that falters on the sheer literality of both the original object and its rendition.

David Mocarski's furniture, tapestries and wall structures draw upon the tenets of Russian Constructivism, De Stijl and the Bauhaus, attempting a cross-pollination between High Modernism and interior design. Although Mocarski shows considerable skill in integrating the structural vocabulary of these movements into his work, he has also completely stripped them of their original force and political intent. What were once considered to be radical advances in both spatial and formal abstraction have been reduced to a mere exercise in chic style. That Modernism and Melrose Avenue have become economically viable bedfellows is a sad example of the assimilating facility of the capitalist Establishment, but there's no need to encourage it. (Karl Bornstein, 1662 12th St., to May 3.)

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