Chicago artist Rodney Carswell debuts here with a baker's dozen of paintings that participate in today's conscious avoidance of originality. He concocts abstractions of slender equilateral crosses on square formats that hark back to Malevich and the Russian avant-garde of yore. Often three or four canvases are butted together, one of them usually somewhat smaller than the rest.
Such arrangements set up some mild formal variation, but optical stresses are so slight they do not become the pictures' content. That seems more involved in the fogging of primary colors that lends the work an aura of the metaphysical. There is a nice touch to Carswell's paint-handling, but his restraint is tentative and jumpy. Results lack the intense conviction that made the Russian originals compelling. (Roy Boyd Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Ave., to April 6.)