New York-based artist George Condo turned up in Los Angeles three years ago with a show of bold Expressionistic figures and apocalyptic landscapes. Now he's back, but with more elegant paintings that look as if they were done with an eye on Matta. Insect-like characters with stick legs are sometimes isolated as weird personages; more often bulbous forms that taper off into stretched balloons are enmeshed in chains or networks. A couple of collage paintings teem with torn drawings of Tom and Jerry cartoons and Picasso-esque figures.
This work is lush and beautiful with ingratiating color, sure composition, a liquid flow of line and richly collaged surfaces. At times it even looks sincere in its overpainted sketches and notations. But it's only smart art. At bottom, this show seems to be nothing more than a cynical evocation of the romance of Abstract Expressionism. "Look at me, folks," Condo seems to say. "I can paint like the good ol' boys, appropriate like today's stars and prove that I'm above it all by tossing in a few cartoon critters." (Larry Gagosian Gallery, 510 N. Robertson Blvd., to Nov. 22.)