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Wilshire Center

December 18, 1987|SUZANNE MUCHNIC

"The Boyle Family will be featured in a one-man show," it says here in a press release. The man is Mark Boyle, who does not function alone but with Joan Hills and their children, Sebastian and Georgia Boyle. Well known in England where they served as representatives to the 1978 Venice Biennale and this year's Sao Paulo Biennale, the Boyles are making their Los Angeles debut with works from their "Journey to the Surfaces of the Earth."

They have traveled extensively, making big fiberglass reliefs that replicate parts of the landscape that most people simply walk on. Like a pack of John Cage devotees, they employ chance methods to decide where they will go. Upon arrival, they throw a right angle into the air to determine the exact spot to be memorialized in an artwork.

The panels currently on display hail from England, but without their titles most would be difficult to place. Although we might guess that rocky reliefs were cast on the White Cliffs of Dover, a "Cobble Study With Yellow Line" might have been taken from an old street anywhere in Europe and "Study From the Westminster Series With Drain" could be a broken-down curb in many a city. "Study of an Urban Lorry Park With Child's Footprints" is simply a churned-up field of muddy tire tracks.

The point, however, is not to reproduce definitive segments but to recognize the visual interest--if not beauty--of the earth that arises naturally and from efforts to cover it with paving, tile and bricks. The Boyles' "surface" is often multilayered, a sort of collage of urban "improvements."

The family has been working in this vein for about 20 years and the once novel concept now seems rather tired, diluted as it is by other artists who look to distressed earth and cultural remnants for inspiration. What remains fresh is the Boyles' attitude that art is not a competitive venture but a satisfying communal exploration. (Turske & Whitney Gallery, 962 N. La Brea Ave., to Jan. 12.)

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