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ART REVIEW : Dreams of Escape That Swing From One Extreme to Another

April 09, 1993|SUSAN KANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

If paintings were bodies, Adam Ross' would be covered in bruises--impossibly beautiful agglomerations of purple, pink, yellow, red and blue, swirling, pulsing and then congealing beneath their unbroken skins.

Bruises are discolorations resulting from the rupture of small blood vessels and the escape of blood into the surrounding tissue. Ross' paintings at Sue Spaid are hyper-colorations that whisper of rupture, dream of escape, but will--thankfully--never heal.

You complain: How sadistic an analogy! Yet Ross' process inspires it. His surfaces appear utterly flat, untouched, pure. Yet they accrue from layers and layers of alkyd and oil, each sanded with vicious zeal, the pigments holding onto their wooden supports only in tiny specks, as capillary-like lines, mottled patches, concentric rings and faint shadows.

You complain: What hyperbolic language! Yet the images that result from this painstaking process swing from one extreme to another, conjuring spaces that are unimaginably large--supernovae exploding in space, universes unfolding in time; or so small they are almost unfathomable--mitosis, meiosis, cytoplasmic fission.

Less spectacular are the smaller works on iron--taken from real irons, no less. Though the shapes are suitably (if ironically) heraldic, the application of paint is unrefined, with pigment dripping over the edges and areas of demarcation less precisely noted. These works are casual; Ross' best paintings are obsessive.

* Adam Ross, "That Which Appears Is Good, That Which Is Good Appears," at Sue Spaid, 7454 1/2 Beverly Blvd., (213) 435-6153. Through April 25. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

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