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The Galleries

Wilshire Center

February 26, 1988|MARLENA DONOHUE

Picasso's ubiquitous influence reaches the shores of Hawaii in audacious acrylic, latex and oil stick paintings and mixed-media constructions by Honolulu-based artist Mary Bonic. With the distorted, mask-like figuration of Picasso's "Guernica" or "The Embrace" of 1928, Bonic fashions Hawaiian gods and goddesses from disjointed vestiges of jagged jaws, single peering eyes, a tuft of hair, a limb. From a distance Bonic's works look like a jumble of colorful shapes and lines. Up close, you unravel playful, bold narratives.

In "Three Women," the debt to Picasso's "Demoiselles d'Avignon" is clear. One women is a statuesque form with a tiny head and long neck modeled from surface striations that recall native body markings or wood grain; the second has two lopsided eyes, a vague heart- shaped mouth and an odd, tattoo-patterned hand languidly resting on the profile of breasts; the third woman is all but lost in bright undulating shapes that barely hint at hips and buttocks. In "Olopue (God that leads spirits to and back from the spirit land)," a puzzle-piece deity looms over a spirit that supplicates with claw-like hands. Bonic is not another boring clone of the Spanish master. Trained as a dancer, she brings a freer, purely sensual and feminine touch.

Bonic also shows small wood and mixed-media constructions: houses, birds of paradise and even a playful jet plane made of hunks of rough hewn lumber stacked vertically like tikis. She adds bits of vinyl, wire mesh and cut-up photos, then unifies everything with the same exotic patterning that gives her paintings their raw appeal.(April Sgro-Riddle Gallery, 836 N. La Brea Ave., to March 9.)

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