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ART REVIEW : Moisan Subtly Paints a Complex Story


From across the gallery, Patricia Moisan's little white paintings resemble square magnifying lenses fastened flush to the walls. Appearing to enlarge the texture and to intensify the color of the plain white walls of Angles Gallery, these understated monochromes demonstrate that even the most reductive abstract paintings offer a condensed and sharply focused experience of their surroundings.

Each subtly ravishing work consists of hundreds of coats of paint Moisan has sprayed over thin squares of aluminum whose backs are covered with rubber and whose fronts have various patterns cut into them. The rubber causes the panels to cleave to the walls. The incised patterns cause the paint to layer in peculiar ways, following slight striations to form various compositional structures. It is as if Moisan's art presents a meticulous, microscopic study of the molecular structure of painted surfaces.

Moisan makes her own paint. She mixes pure white pigment with turpentine and fixative to ensure that the solution evaporates almost immediately upon contact with the aluminum.

This allows each particle of pigment to stick to the surface of the painting as if it settled there like a speck of dust. As Moisan repeats this process, single particles cluster together, forming myriad bumps that resemble powdery taste buds.

Their vulnerability is palpable. The slightest touch of a fingertip is enough to crush these delicate topographical modulations. Despite their fragility, they exert a seemingly gravitational pull on your body, drawing your eyes so close to their surfaces that your nose almost rubs across them.

Moisan's quietly stunning paintings reveal that some blank white fields are neither colorless nor empty, and that sometimes homogeneity is nothing of the sort. With her work, an extremely limited vocabulary yields an excess of distinctions. The more closely you look into particulars, the more likely it is that you'll find meaningful differences.

* Angles Gallery, 2230 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 396-5019, through July 8. Closed Sundays and Mondays.


Pieces of Fun: Noah Purifoy's funky sculptures and vivacious assemblages couldn't be more out of place in the lobby of the Omni Hotel. At Rachele Lozzi Gallery, amid shops selling designer handbags and expensive watches, the 77-year-old artist's "Desert Tombstones" and collages of colorful scavenged scraps bring a breath of freshness and heat into the generic corporate environment.

Made of found pieces of metal, broken circuitry, antique lead type and severed chains, Purifoy's abstract tombstones are held together by shiny splashes of solder. These nine sculptures belong in a fanciful graveyard the artist is building on 10 acres near Joshua Tree, where he moved six years ago after founding the Watts Tower Art Center in 1964 and influencing at least two generations of assemblage artists.

Toasters covered with dominoes, a dice-coated coffee maker and elegant abstract reliefs containing office furniture, baskets, beads, brushes, shoe trees, shower curtains and books are all examples of the richness of Purifoy's make-do inventiveness.

These works also provide a hint of his home in the desert, which he's steadily transforming into a sprawling live-in sculpture, complete with porcelain toilets stacked into columns, a multi-seat bathroom that doubles as a conference room and scores of whimsical monuments. Purifoy's wacky, do-it-yourself Disneyland is more personal than the original, and there aren't any guards to spoil his fun under the desert sun.

* Rachele Lozzi Gallery, Omni Hotel, 930 Wilshire Blvd., (213) 612-3965, through June 30.

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