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The Art Galleries

Santa Monica

September 18, 1987|COLIN GARDNER

Ford Crull is a New York-based "expressionist" whose visceral, apocalyptic paintings combine stream-of-consciousness kinesis with fantastical symbolism. Working with a sensually charged palette, Crull's diptychs mine a wide range of historical sources, as if African primitivism, East Village graffiti and the all-over aesthetic of the Abstract Expressionists were in a constant state of interaction and mutation.

The work is grounded in Crull's personal iconography, a muddy melange of scrawled texts, female nudes, demons, hearts, eyes and masklike screaming faces. Because Crull refuses to make formal distinctions between foreground and background, representation and abstraction, painterly rhetoric and art-as-language, the work can often appear as unfocused as automatic writing.

Although the eye is seemingly encouraged to roam, to penetrate a dense, dreamlike landscape, Crull's torrid outburst of imagery offers little or no opportunity to reflect or interpret. We are left with an artist rich in imagination and passion who needs to open up a few structural doors so that his audience can participate in a dialogue, rather than retreat from what amounts to a private visual onslaught. (Roy Boyd Gallery, 1547 10th St., to Oct. 6.)

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