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THE ART GALLERIES

La Cienega Area

October 09, 1987|MARLENA DONOHUE

Mid-career New Yorker Royce Howes debuts here with multipaneled small paintings and graphic works. Each repeats a variation on the same format built on three repeating images. One panel depicts a brushy, gestural hour-glass shape suggesting an armless torso (with dual allusions to expressionistic figuration and classical art), another panel in the series features a monochromatic field and geometric shapes, still another shows beautifully crafted atmospheric landscapes running the gamut from Barbizon School to German romanticism.

A particularly good piece pits a bright-yellow expanse against brooding, spooky trees reminiscent of Caspar David Friedrich. What we read here is the vocabulary of so-called historicism spearheaded by Pat Steir, and Howes is clearly a confident, focused practitioner. But like other painters who reconstitute their art historical roots, Howes sets himself up for the oft-heard objection to historicism in general: What is the point? (Michael Kohn Gallery, 313 N. Robertson Blvd. to Oct. 31.)

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