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VALLEY WEEKEND | SIGHTS

Collaboration Blends History and Eroticism

Javier Granados combines forces with Bernardo Martinez to generate variations on nude paintings by renowned artists.

May 30, 1996|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As a rule, visual artists are a lonely breed when in the creative throes. Whereas collaboration and interaction play a role in other media, visual artists through the ages have tended to repair to a studio and engage in a solitary pact with their canvas of choice. With luck and diligence, maybe the muse shows up with a gift of inspiration.

The very fact that Javier Granados has violated that tradition accounts for part of the appeal of the exhibition called "Logos," at the Granados 2 gallery.

To create these generally erotic and vaguely art historical pieces, Granados has combined forces with Bernardo Martinez. Each piece in the show is the result of four hands working sequentially: Works were passed back and forth and allowed to evolve.

Perhaps Granados' willingness to tinker with artistic tradition stems from the fact that he is a hyphenate: painter-teacher-architect. He also is a gallery owner, operating both the upstairs Granados 2 Gallery and curating shows at the hair-salon-cum-art gallery, Bigoudi, in Woodland Hills.

The "Logos" series from Granados and Martinez moves on to Bigoudi next month, including some of the pieces seen here, as well as larger-scale canvases to suit the larger space.

*

In creating this body of work, the artists observed thematic parameters, generating loose variations on nude paintings by renowned artists throughout history. Stylistically, the allegiance to the artistic sources varies widely; likewise, the degrees of erotic subtlety.

"Magritte's Opening," true to the irrational form of the Belgian surrealist painter, presents a bizarre juxtaposition of anatomical fragments, but with quirky asides--nipple rings and a vagina equipped with a zipper.

The nude in "Botero's Flood" is a woman of ample proportions, typical of the Argentine artist's favored body type.

Aspects of art history, eroticism and deconstruction converge here, and not always in a seamless way. In "De Chirico's Drip," the artists use a technique that distances the nudes from any specific identity. In "Man Ray's Flirt," the leaning nude manages to look aloof, lost in a sultry slouch.

Attitudes of displacement and ambiguity keep these images from being leeringly sexual. With "Kitaj's Entrance," a depiction of a woman seems to dissolve into murky paint swirls and a hint of canvas peeling away.

Overall, the results of this collaboration are images that bear the scrapings and markings of creative mutation. They sit somewhere between the cool detachment of graphic design and the thoughtful consideration of fine art, worked from different angles and the surface of the paintings often subtly torn or stitched.

In short, the art shows evidence of reworking, but not so much that the works have lost integrity. The marriage seems to work.

* "Logos," art by Javier Granados and Bernardo Martinez, through Saturday at Granados 2 Gallery, 3221 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village; (213) 662- 9930.

O.J., We Thought We Knew Ye: In stark contrast to the glitz and the media frenzy of the O.J. Simpson trial coverage last year, sculptor Richard Fish has brought a much calmer eye to a familiar gallery of faces. Looking at Fish's older works in the Creative Arts Center Gallery in Burbank, the effects are pleasant enough, if a bit artsy-craftsy.

But the series of O.J. trial portraits, titled "Justice," is intriguing because Fish's signature medium almost turns these courtroom legends into the stuff of myth.

Fish creates metal sculptures with a unique "wire welding," bending and joining thin strands of metal together to create what look like metal line drawings. Detailed likenesses are not the point--these are not courtroom sketches in wire.

The idea is to capture an essence of personality, as much as the practiced cool of the players would allow.

In O.J. Simpson, one sees the impassive, long face, ever weary, yet also wary. Judge Lance Ito conveys coiled intensity behind the shrubbery of beard and glasses. Attorneys Johnny Cochran and Marcia Clarke seem cautiously relaxed, poised for retort, while Robert Shapiro appears alert yet bedraggled, as if some strange force of gravity is tugging horizontally at his face.

This an operatic real-life saga--frozen-welded--into deceptively sedate portraits. There is no bloody glove here, just faces marked by nervous, deadly calm.

* Sculpture by Richard Fish, through June 20 at Creative Arts Center, 1100 W. Clarke Ave., Burbank; (818) 238-5397.

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