On a bad day one is tempted to suspect the more esoteric sorts of art of being little more than a species of aesthetic drill sergeant, barking incoherent orders to get the naive recruits to do mental calisthenics that they essentially make up themselves. One knows from experience this is not true, but a theme show like "Topology" reawakens the sleeping philistine.
"Topology" is a nice vague topic made foggier by seven artists doing widely disparate work and some quite awkwardly at that. Matt Mullican shows a blue-and-white hard-edge poster that extends his usual invented airport graphics. Troy Brauntich hangs a large sienna triptych barely depicting a Post-Mod Neo-Classical interior. Between these polarities come mottled rock-shaped hunks painted by Andy Moses and a field of book pages with globular shapes painted by Tim Rollins. Add photo-derived images by Fariba Hajamadi and enlarged electronic fragments by Rolf Walz and you have a show that lacks coherence.
If the viewer wants to practice mental athletics, he can come up with the notion that all the artists are asking questions about how we all use our minds to process fragments of information that enter through the eye from the environment.
Yawn. This is asking us to do a lot of work. This is asking us essentially to make up the art ourselves. These are clever questions posed by bright folks without answers. Guess what? Art can be problematical and inquisitorial, but when it is art it has some notion of a solution. Cubism was an answer to questions about perception, so was Robert Irwin's light and space art and John Baldessari's photo-conceptual works. What we have on view here--excepting Mullican--shows little evidence of having gotten beyond the paradoxes posed in the old movie, "Blow Up." (Asher/Faure Gallery, 612 N. Almont Drive, to Saturday.)