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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

October 24, 1986|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

Toward the end of his long career, Peter Krasnow (1887-1979) made intricately patterned paintings that delighted viewers with delicious, cake-frosting colors and led them down a garden path to mysterious symbolism. The most assiduous riddle-solvers among us still try to decipher the Hebrew letters and Jewish lore tucked away in his cheerful mazes; more free-spirited folk accept his approach as an artist's license doing a dance with his ethnic heritage.

Some wonderful examples of Krasnow's late painting crown a multimedia minisurvey that stretches from 1920 to 1977. Prime among them is "Vigilance," a 1970 triptych with two treelike figures guarding an ark that holds the Torah. Equally powerful are a couple of six-foot-tall convoluted figures, carved (in 1936) of California walnut with a muscular passion that puts us in mind of Stephanie Barron's landmark exhibition of German Expressionist sculpture at the County Museum of Art.

Early Expressionist prints, drawings and paintings, done in Southern California and during a year in France, track a career that branched off from Russian roots but never lost touch with the artist's identity as a visionary humanist. (Tobey C. Moss, 7321 Beverly Blvd., to Nov. 15.)

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