Palmer Schoppe takes familiar liberties with the female figure in about 20 paintings of "Malibu Graces and Goddesses." Combining the traditional "Three Graces" theme and the age-old pastime of girl-watching, the 75-year-old artist makes no bones about celebrating bikini-clad women as objects of admiration and as forms to be reconstructed.
Outlandishly curvaceous and monumentally proportioned, they loll on the sand beneath walls of graffiti and lifeguard stands, generally arranging themselves as mountainous decorations. Appearing as a trio of "Graces," they may paddle in a turquoise pool or sprawl on the beach with a radio.
When Schoppe punches white holes in masses of dark hair or contradicts muscular form with painterly gestures, as in a painting called "The Lifeguard," he seems to have no idea how to model volumes, but most of these works (1966-85) are skillfully designed. They pay homage to Picasso, Leger and Schoppe's own experience as a muralist as they entertain us with art that looks peculiarly innocent. (Tobey C. Moss Gallery, 7321 Beverly Blvd., to June 13.)--S.M.