CalArts graduate David Lloyd makes his solo debut with a series of abstract relief paintings that resemble a Constructivist jigsaw puzzle where none of the pieces quite seem to fit. The works are grounded on a simple dialectic between object and image, triggering a series of contradictions between painterly representation (a kinetic concoction of cones, circles, cylinders and swirling vortices) and the layered slabs of cut-out wood that "carry" them.
While the results could be seen as a fusion of Gary Stephan's trompe l'oeil illusionism and Jill Giegerich's concern with the ghosts of the machine age past, Lloyd's aesthetic is essentially formal. By playing off the language of abstract painting (overall shape, edge, volume, clashing color values) with the rough textures and sculptural dislocations of his materials, he is able to produce dense visual labyrinths, at once free-wheelingly organic and conceptually contrived.
Lloyd's chief problem lies in his over-reliance on historical antecedents. The Constructivist influence is obvious, yet it has been completely drained of its original Utopian significance. Abstract language is reduced to a meaningless decorative vocabulary with no socially redeeming value whatsoever. As a result, for all of Lloyd's technical bravura and compositional surety, his works come across as so many passive consumables, visually seductive but conceptually quite empty. (Margo Leavin Gallery, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., to June 27.)