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AT THE GALLERIES

December 11, 1987|Leah Ollman

SAN DIEGO — Marjorie Nodelman's recent "Neo Cubist" paintings at Anuska Galerie (2400 Kettner Blvd.) are decorative permutations on the themes of vision and representation explored by Picasso and Braque in the early years of this century.

Like her forebears, Nodelman does not clarify vision as much as she dissects and abstracts it, translating the multidimensional forms of the real world into flat patterns on canvas. The paintings themselves bear little physical resemblance to those of Nodelman's sources. Theirs were usually modest-sized, monochromatic musings depicting mundane objects from multiple points of view, but hers are large, round (over 5 feet in diameter), colorful and bursting with energy.

The San Diego painter's subjects range from the classic to the comic, from male nudes to caricatures. In her series of nudes, Nodelman assumes a controlled, conservative stance, reducing the figures to angular facets, tightly interlocked in the fashion of a mosaic or puzzle. Though the forms are recognizable, the paintings seem to exist as much for the sake of presenting a dynamic color field than for representational purposes. Bursts of centrifugal force energize these paintings, fusing their facets of rust, orange, brown, black and lavender.

Nodelman's vocabulary shifts to the more abstract and playful in the "Cubist Pep Boys" paintings. Here the refinement of the nudes gives way to chaos and crudity. Shapes are painted flatly, outlined in black and animated by directional lines of movement, making these canvases mad montages of cartoon imagery. The paintings have the same immediate appeal as views through a kaleidoscope. The confusion within is delightful and amusing, but not deeply affecting.

The show continues through Dec. 24.

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