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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

June 06, 1986|KRISTINE McKENNA

Hal Meltzer's paintings are so cloyingly adorable you want to tweak them on the cheek. Science-fiction landscapes rendered in lurid Day-Glo colors, the pictures put one in mind of those collaborative murals done by grade-school classes that adorn the long halls at the airport.

Meltzer sees himself as part of the Pop Surrealist school that includes Gary Panter and Kenny Scharf, but Neo-Infantilism seems a more appropriate tag for his work. Depicting a cartoon world of rolling hills dotted with swimming pools, TV antennae and various foodstuffs, the pictures all look as though they should be titled "Big Rock Candy Mountain."

Food is a central motif in Meltzer's work and he does some strange things with it; we see a beach furnished with lounge chairs and cabanas. Reclining on the sand soaking up rays are pieces of toast, bacon and cake. He's also big on balloons and the two canvases where they play a central role look suitable for the walls of a nursery. The only thing one can say in defense of the work is that it hammers home the point that we've all been stuffed to the gills with the kind of shrill visual information that spawned graffiti art. Like synthetic polyester, Meltzer's work is a bad imitation of something that was a bad idea to begin with. (Davies Long Gallery, 8906 Melrose Ave., to June 25.)

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