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The Galleries

La Cienega Area

January 15, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

Painter David Settino Scott's interests include art history and classical craft (in the form of layer upon layer of oil paint on muslin worked to look like precious Renaissance veneers or bizarre, ornate hand-carved frames that complete or compete with paintings). He also toys with the century-old tension you get when coupling kinky, edgy things with innocent, lovely things in equal parts.

In earlier work, nudes borrowed from Bosch's "Garden of Earthly Delights" sported sunglasses. This show avoids cute quotes and is the better for it. Scott still paints generic odalisques, or Eve the archetypal temptress in a style taken from 16th-Century Northern Europe and personalized. In the triptych "Eve With Child," a nubile nude with tummy swelling is watched by a thick serpent coiled round an exotic tree. Hinged side panels reveal a second painting of an overturned vessel from which slither tiny black snakes.

Scott serves up nudes that are more contemporary than mythical (the least interesting pieces), arrangements of succulent pears and bold saffron horses grazing in honeyed fields. This work is fraught with the potential for make-up-your-own Freudian interpretations, but at his best Scott leans toward Gauguin and Rousseau, for whom sensuality was a kind of tactile, psychedelic reverie infusing the curves of foliage as much as the curves of a thigh.

Janet Tholen uses mixed media, ragboard and paint in a mysterious and sculptural way. She constructs ritualistic sites that sweep into the picture or jut out several literal inches. She builds vast incandescent vistas where tunnels, pits and caverns are part of deserted archeological ruins that might just as easily be ancient Hittite fortresses, Jungian dreamscapes or sacred cities discovered by Buck Rogers. (Koplin Gallery, 8225 1/2 Santa Monica Blvd., to Jan. 30.)

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