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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

September 12, 1986|KRISTINE MCKENNA

Jan Baum Gallery kicks off the fall season with an exhibition of three young artists, all of whom take a relatively formal approach to art-making.

Rochelle Caper describes her work as being about "fantasy that has to do with primitive instincts" but her vibrant abstractions are in fact much more controlled than that comment implies. The large, softly contoured shapes Caper favors put one in mind of Georgia O'Keeffe, while her electrified use of color (against fields of black) is reminiscent of Kandinsky. Caper's sense of composition is certainly strong enough but at this point the visual design of her paintings upstages the primitive power she seems to be striving for.

Assemblages by Phyllis Green fairly jump off their pedestals with primitive juju; as in work by James Surls, Green's mixed media pieces have a playful, anthropomorphic quality that's engagingly weird. Strange little objects involving coils of wire and concrete replicas of animals bones look as though they might harbor a hidden switch that triggers them into action, while a series of larger pieces are made of thick twigs that appear to be embracing one another.

Dave de Buck's glossy Contructivist paintings do tricks with perspective in the manner of work by John Okulick. Overlapping networks of geometric shapes appear to lean in and out of one another in these big, long paintings that march down the wall chin to the wind. Lovingly assembled and polished as a vintage Rolls-Royce, De Buck's elegant, conservative pictures have the burnished glow of old money. (Jan Baum, 170 S. La Brea Ave., to Sept. 27)

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