Walking into Kuhlenschmidt/Simon gallery, you never quite know what drop-dead gesture will be awaiting your attention. This time, it's a series of paintings by Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe, "History and Seduction Paintings (Act II)."
That seems to be as good a title as any for squares of linen covered with a more-or-less solid color field relieved by a few thin color stripes snuggled up to the right and left edges of the painting. "More-or-less" because pains generally have been taken to lay down a muddier undercoat, over which the final, public color is carefully brushed in a particular direction, like Brylcreemed hair, leaving a thin vertical trough of undercoat. Sometimes the brush strokes scrape across in painstakingly horizontal lines; sometimes they glide down in barely discernible vertical gleams; sometimes they eddy in little waves.
The point seems to be an unmasking of the surface as a rank traitor, a suave lie. Whatever the intellectual rationale, however, the paintings have the grimly programmatic look of art that hopes to coast to fame on a tight agenda. (Kuhlenschmidt/Simon, 9000 Melrose Ave., to Feb. 27.)