If Marcel Duchamp had lived at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, he might have made objects something like Bella Feldman's latest series of steel sculptures. Setting up a dialectic between machine-like and animal forms, between the architectural and the organic, the Oakland-based artist exploits the contradictions between object and image, materials and function to create fetishes that strive to both domesticate danger and to inject menace into the seemingly banal.
Pointed steel cables spew out of a metallic pouch like eviscerated entrails, while a wheeled totem called "Jagganatha" looks as if an industrial ax blade had been rent down the middle to reveal a tangle of loose tendons. While the innate structure tends towards the formulaic, there is an intuitive lyricism at work here that prevents the sculpture from becoming idiosyncratic for its own sake.
Also on display are new works by Texas painter Kenneth Hale. With their theatrical sunsets, thorny trees, whorl-shaped cones and serpent-like vines enveloping each other in a yin-yang of order and chaos, renewal and destruction, they tend to come across as an overtly organic revamping of Jedd Garet (hardly a model of originality himself). Hale's ambitious objective is to explore Machiavellian processes in both art and society, yet the work is unable to satisfactorily transcend the simplistic contrivance of its metaphors and the inevitable sense of deja vu created by a well-worn Surrealist vocabulary. (Space Gallery, 6015 Santa Monica Blvd., to Feb. 14.)