Given the unabashed hedonism of Michael Falzone's latest paintings and sculptures, it's hard to believe that this Altadena-based artist began his career as a Minimalist. In the last five years, Falzone has shifted radically from the formal purity of his wood and plaster architectural volumes and stripped-down, rhythmic "figures," moving toward a hybrid sensual Expressionism that is equal parts sexual fantasy and the recreational musings of an insatiable bon vivant .
The historical roots of his aesthetic are familiar. Exotic, half-naked women surrounded by lush undergrowth draw upon the faux-naif style of Gauguin. A gaudy, Fauve-like palette brings Matisse to mind. Dislocation of primitive forms in the wood sculptures owes a debt to Cubism. Perhaps more important is Falzone's love and appreciation for jazz. Whether creating paeans to walking the dog, fishing, "happy hour" or the joys of daydreaming, Falzone imbues his work with the rhythm and intuitive feeling for improvisation that one would normally associate with, say, Dexter Gordon or Charlie Parker.
The work is often shrill, unsubtle and overbearing. It can also be intellectually seductive through its artful use of historical quotation. Viewed ensemble, it is so offbeat and wacky that viewers must either surrender or rebel, let themselves go or run to the safe refuge of the rational. (Newspace, 5241 Melrose Ave., to Dec. 6.)