Painting has made a critical comeback since its last prematurely announced demise, but it is no longer a pure, self-dependent medium. It has fused rather oddly with both current intellectual trends and the demands of the design industry. As a result, such old guard Abstract Expressionists as Stephen Greene now appear out of place: stubborn proponents of a moribund rhetoric that has not only lost much of its raison d'etre but most of its fighting spirit.
Greene's recent "Apparition" series is a good case in point. The work is based upon a well-worn abstract/figurative dialectic, where floating figures, bones and disembodied flowers act as formal parameters for a more fluid, often explosive sweep of sensuous color. The results resemble the patchy abstractions of Frankenthaler and Hofmann, yet we are ultimately more aware of superficial decorative flourishes than substantial insight.
A similar case can be made against Nick Boskovich, whose tiny still life and nude figurative studies are long on mood and atmosphere, but significantly short on aesthetic innovation and conceptual savvy. Taking his cue from the luminous, almost transparent painterly surfaces of Vermeer and Ingres, Boskovich painstakingly builds up thin layers of pigment in order to simulate that mystifying quality of trancendence that we usually associate with "high art."
Delicate brush work and intimate scale might create an illusion of personal epiphany, but the effect is completely dependent upon the historical deceits of bravura technique rather than anything intrinsic to the subjects themselves. (Ruth Bachofner, 804 N. La Cienega Blvd., Boskovich to Jan. 17, Greene to Feb. 14.)