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THE ART GALLERIES

Wilshire Center

January 23, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

People who like to discover faces in everything from clouds to abstract art can have a field day with Linda Smith's faux naif acrylics on canvas. Painting with all the grace of a kid wielding a cake decorator, she puts crude, cartoonish faces in carpets, swimming pools, skies and wallpaper. These visages people obsessively patterned scenes already populated by large, awkward figures.

Considering the psychoanalytical bent of Smith's themes--"At the Shrink Discussing Penis Envy," "Running My Life," "Totems in the Schoolyard"--we assume that she intends the faces to represent spirits, real people or other forces that exert an influence on her larger subjects. Trouble is, they have no emotional vectors and neither do the paintings. Vivid colors, aggressive patterns and suggestive titles indicate that Smith yearns to be an expressionist--or at least to have more expressive clout than a primitive decorator--but her paintings are just too busy, clumsy and full of themselves to convey more than an artist's desire to lay her inner struggles on her audience. (Ivey Gallery, 154 N. La Brea Ave., to Feb. 7.)

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