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ART REVIEW

Playing With Light by a Sea of Extremes

July 12, 1996|DAVID PAGEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Len Paschoal's meticulously rendered drawings and paintings depict piers, beaches and breakwaters familiar to anyone who has strolled along the seashore. The Milan-born, L.A.-based artist's first solo show at Koplin Gallery is promising not because each of his works on paper and canvas captures a fraction of the beach's daunting beauty, but because in them Paschoal skillfully plays blinding light against impenetrable shadow to form tight compositions.

More than half of his rigidly structured pictures portray the shady undersides of wooden piers. Vertical pilings and angled supports repeat with uninterrupted regularity until they disappear in darkness or dissolve in the setting sun's glare.

Paschoal often positions himself (and the viewer) just underneath or just alongside the edge of a pier, where a mixture of sunlight and shade allows you to see the world in its detailed fullness. Even these precisely observed and painstakingly articulated images juxtapose extremes, pitting an excess of light against its unfathomable absence. In either case, your capacity to see is defeated as Paschoal's art takes on an unsettling edginess.

The best painting is the simplest. Consisting only of a pier's railing, an expanse of ocean and a slice of sky, "Motion I" brings the brightest and darkest parts of the picture right next to each other. This jarring juxtaposition amplifies the dissonance that gives Paschoal's otherwise conventional seascapes their verve.

* Koplin Gallery, 464 N. Robertson Blvd., (310) 657-9843, through Aug. 24. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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