In a well-appointed first one-person show in the United States, young German Gerhard Mantz offers simple, eccentric shapes of wood. Conical pieces resemble space capsules, elongated ovals look like archetypal shields, half domes like shells of giant tortoises. Surfaces are mostly painted white to emphasize their clear, unencumbered lines. But Mantz gives works' underbellies a surface of neon-bright acrylic paint--chartreuse, fluorescent pink--radiant enough to reflect from gallery walls. Stark-white objects are surrounded by eerie, oscillating neon halos locating them somewhere between minimalism and optical art.
If he stopped at this, Mantz would have little new to offer. But as his reflections bleed like electrical light onto the surroundings, works call attention to all sorts of sculptural possibilities. Ellsworth Kelly has done this sort of thing but Mantz adds Germanic precision and drama. Perfectly conceived pieces start to look like nostalgic mirages seen through the quivering desert heat. (Karl Bornstein Gallery, 1658 10th St. to May 20).