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Looks Into the Female Spirit : 'Kore Intent' brings together the diverse works of four San Fernando Valley artists.

April 09, 1993|NANCY KAPITANOFF | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Nancy Kapitanoff writes regularly about art for The Times.

Artists have rendered captivating visions of the female form throughout history.

A 4 3/8-inch female fertility figurine, "Venus of Willendorf," is thought to date to between 15,000 and 10,000 BC. Like larger Egyptian statues from about 2500 BC, Greek sculptures of the 7th and 6th centuries BC, referred to as kore figures, face forward, presenting few sensual nuances. But they delineate the female form and convey a womanly psyche.

Century Gallery has brought together the paintings of four San Fernando Valley artists to explore contemporary views of the female spirit in the show, "Kore Intent: Communication Utilizing the Female Form."

The paintings of Patti Allen-Akesson, Lula Flores, Danuta Rothschild and Murray Schiff bear little relation to each other in style, technique and content other than their appreciation of the figure.

"I wanted to show more than one aspect of the idea," said Lee Musgrave, gallery director. He feels that the exhibit of 29 paintings come together as a whole that is "stronger than it is individually. It makes more of an emotional impact."

Akesson searches for the hara , meaning center in Japanese and Chinese, in two series of acrylic and steel on wood paintings, "Expanding Center" and "Form From Within 'Hara.' "

"I'm a dancer and, as a dancer, you're always yelled at to find your center," said Akesson, who has danced professionally since she was 3.

The amorphously shaped steel hara of her paintings flows over a portion of the earthy figure on wood. Neither male nor female, it represents not the center of the figure particularly, but the mental, physical, metaphysical and psychological aspects of a being. "I'm trying to get people to look at the figure in a new way," she said.

Polish-born Rothschild, who has been living in the United States since 1971, captures the mettle of people in difficult circumstances in her emotional images. Her subjects are often individuals displaced by wars and economic or political persecution.

A visit to Poland in 1990 brought back memories from her childhood of Gypsies selling goods on the street, and prompted her to portray them in "Watermelon." After a trip to New Mexico that same year, she began her series on American Indians, which includes the striking "Untitled Mother & Child."

In "Woman's Shelter," two young girls sit on the steps of a Los Angeles shelter for battered women. The older girl, no older than her early teens, clearly functions as a protector/mother figure to the younger girl. Their faces convey the sorrows of children confronted with ugly realities.

Yet those girls, and the other figures in her paintings, give her hope. "They don't give up on life," she said. "They still have the drive to do something."

Chilean-born Flores' more abstract paintings reflect her interest in strong colors and in connecting figures with the space around them.

"The space is as important as the form," she said. "I like to bring out the shapes instead of the real forms. I start with many colors until I see the forms. They evolve out of color and textures."

Schiff hangs out on the streets of Los Angeles, taking unposed snapshots of people.

The photos--from such places as Venice, Chinatown, Melrose Avenue, Hollywood Boulevard and Broadway--serve as a jumping-off point for what he presents in the paintings: "my take on people, their personalities and body language," he said. "I like the activity and kineticism of the scribbled stroke. That's where the emotion comes in. What I see psychologically comes out in the color."

Schiff said he is attracted to using the female form as subject matter because "I can't identify with what they really are, so I am projecting what they might be. There's more mystery to be explored."

Where and When What: "Kore Intent" at Century Gallery, 13000 Sayre St., Sylmar. Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through April 17. Call: (818) 362-3220.

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