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ART REVIEW : Abaroa Falls Short With One-Liners

November 03, 1995|SUSAN KANDEL

In his first solo show outside his native Mexico, Eduardo Abaroa declares his fondness for the one-liner. If you only allot yourself one line, however, it'd better be a good one. Unfortunately, this young mixed-media artist falls short on consistency.

Some of his bits, exhibited at Iturralde Gallery, depend upon familiarity with culturally specific stereotypes, like Mexico's ubiquitous black-shawled "Maria." Others survive translation, though the humor is more sophomoric than not.

Take Abaroa's plaster Twinkies, for example, which are paired like low-rent lovers, sporting multiple pierced nipples or cowboy hats at rakish angles. Or the "Prozac Mobile," a model race car with telltale green-and-white capsules stuffed under the hood. The materials are quirky, but the ideas are uninspired, suggesting that the title of the show, "Don't Give Me No Ideas," isn't half as ironic as curator Maria Guerra intended.

More impressive is Abaroa's extended riff on Sea Monkeys, which includes two tanks of the wriggly mail-order creatures and little plaster effigies enacting preposterous Sea Monkey scenarios, including a submarine orgy and a mini-yogi contemplating the underwater silence.

These are accompanied by texts whose deadpan wit is intermittently wonderful. Abaroa's talents as a writer, however, are best shown off in a 10-panel image-and-text collaboration with painter Marco Arce, which recounts the tragicomic story of a woman named Martita, who walks the streets of Tijuana with a cat in a plastic bag. This kind of format and this kind of surreal humor insist upon the leisurely denouement. Liberated from the self-imposed tyranny of just one line, Abaroa rises to the occasion.

* Iturralde Gallery, 154 N. La Brea Ave., (213) 937-4267, through Nov. 22. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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