Norman Lundin is a Seattle-based painter who paints interior studies and still lifes in a predominantly gray palette as a means to exploring the metaphysical properties of light, reflection and shadow. Although he is heavily influenced by the Scandinavian sensibilities of Edvard Munch and Ingmar Bergman, Lundin is less concerned with overt narrative symbolism or "atmosphere" for its own sake. Rather, visual metaphor and painterly rhetoric are used more as an artificial catalyst for suggesting what isn't there: that aching void that seems to obsess brooding Northern temperaments forged by dark, ominous skies and filtered, ethereal light. Lundin achieves this displacement by drawing attention to the artifice of representation itself. By reducing "light" to a painterly image or system of visual signs, Lundin forces us to consider its intangible nature. The art object thus becomes a mere pawn in a broader conceptual schema that not only invites audience participation, but is completely dependent upon it.
Sandy Bleifer's mixed-media paper constructions are concerned with the organic properties of her materials and the various possibilities of her working process. Whether using paper to simulate the surface of wood, recycling old works to resemble the flaking plaster and worn brick of decaying walls or exploiting its potential as a painterly surface, Bleifer treads a thin line between revealing the mechanics of her artifice and encouraging the suspension of disbelief. Ultimately, the work is undone by its inability to transcend its self-consciousness as false representation. We are supposed to both admire the artist's skill at transforming paper into something it isn't, yet also respect its natural characteristics as material. Deception is thus both encouraged and denied, leaving us with an unresolved and unsatisfying contradiction. (Space, 6015 Santa Monica Blvd., to Nov. 22.)