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June 30, 1989|MARLENA DONOHUE

Once a figurative artist, Brock Klein now makes mixed-media paintings in which vertical rectangles of frothy color form backdrops for large, centrally placed curvilinear shapes that loosely suggest abstracted flower petals unfurling from between the edges of the geometric divisions. Every gesture has a counter gesture: straight lines are set beside bending shapes; taut color sits beside atmospheric swaths crafted from a laborious technique of laying down pigment and paper, then scrubbing, scraping and burning the surface. Klein creates passages of rich, smooth color and hard edge, and achieves a quiet elegance; roughing up bits of surface conveys expressionistic spontaneity.

The artist is definitely painting under the Far-Eastern bias for balance in all things. The problem is that his yin-yang orchestrations are so careful they don't take a visual stand and end up appearing pleasantly decorative. (Ruth Bachofner Gallery, 926 Colorado Ave., to July 15.)

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