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ART REVIEW : Marriage of Two Techniques Yields Fresh Style

November 02, 1995|DAVID PAGEL

Monique Prieto's second solo show contains six of the quickest, most exciting paintings of recent memory. At ACME Gallery, the young L.A.-based artist's acrylics on raw canvas marry graphic design and Color Field painting to form idiosyncratic offspring so odd they cannot be accounted for by their sources.

Each image begins as a simple abstract configuration on Prieto's computer. Between seven and 30 oblong blobs or rounded rectangles appear in each painting. All of these cartoonish shapes are neatly painted a single flat color that's applied so thinly the pigment is completely absorbed into the weave of the canvas, like an intractable stain.

Even the locations of Prieto's well-placed drips are worked out on the computer, long before the artist begins to mix her unique, synthetic colors. They tend toward the pastel but include some electrifying primaries, vivid oranges, mutant burgundies and strange beiges.

Prieto's drips never consist of thick rivulets nor end in three-dimensional droplets. As flat as an image on a monitor, they also defy gravity by staining the canvas at impossible angles, and for illogical lengths.

Making a virtue of superficiality, Prieto's fresh paintings stick in your mind's eye long after you've stopped looking at them. Confidently thin, they deftly form compelling pictures without being heavy-handed.

* ACME Gallery, 1800-B Berkeley St., Santa Monica, (310) 264-5818, through Saturday .

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