Veteran Bay Area painter Gregory Kondos makes a rare L.A. appearance with a group of paintings and monotypes ranging from Santa Monica beach scenes to Napa Valley landscapes. Conceptually, the work seems alarmingly dated, combining California plein-air reverence for local topography with a traditional painterly sensibility.
Closer examination reveals a more contradictory picture. Like his longtime friend Wayne Thiebaud, Kondos applies paint like a pastry chef ices a cake. Slathered, highly tactile surfaces combine with bright, sun-drenched colors to produce an artificial, mannered vocabulary. The results are simultaneously seductive and estranging, much like the hyper-realist '60s Pop.
Is this opacity of language accidental? Prosaic titles such as "Early Afternoon" and "Home on the River" suggest that Kondos is attempting to capture some of the lazy innocence of the great outdoors, yet his vision is so close to picturesque cliche that, despite his own best intentions, he strikes a discordant note. (Hunsaker/Schlesinger Gallery, 812 N. La Cienega Blvd., to Dec. 24.)