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Santa Monica

THE ART GALLERIES

May 15, 1987|COLIN GARDNER

Bruce Dean's latest paintings create an overwhelming sense of deja vu . His combination of sweeping fans of smeared pigment with grid-like structures of collaged paper explore a well-worn dialectic between the spontaneous, emotive hand of the artist and the push-pull of dislocated formal geometry.

The results are little more than a kinetic, more highly charged variation on the formulaic collectibles of Laddie Dill--slick, repetitive and safely unadventurous. One suspects that Dean may harbor similar misgivings, for he has arbitrarily burdened the works with narrative titles.

Dean clearly shows considerable talent as a technician, combining compositional surety with fluid brushwork that suggests he is capable of better things. Unless he breaks out of the conservative mannerism on display here, however, he is destined to create little more than moody decorations. (Karl Bornstein Gallery, 1662 12th St., to May 28.)

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