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ART REVIEW

Disarming Works From Steven Criqui

March 08, 1997|SUSAN KANDEL

Steven Criqui's four new paintings at Angles Gallery play dumb, though they're anything but. Composed of richly saturated organic shapes that seem just a little bit coy about the fact that they represent things (mugs, sausages, stacked-up ice cubes), they pit 17th century Dutch still life against Pop Art. The result is tableaux that, by virtue of their charm, are not so much revolutionary as disarming.

Like Monique Prieto, who transforms the tropes of high abstraction into candy-colored cartoons, Criqui is enamored of a kind of twisted illusionism in which pattern overwhelms detail into nonexistence. Clearly, his works make a fetish of flatness: I overheard someone in the gallery liken them to Colorforms, the child's game in which razor-thin shapes easily glide on and off surfaces to make images of various kinds, and that sounded about right.

"Untitled (mugs)" goes in for the subtlest gradations of pink. "Untitled (vanitas)," which looks like a pen squirting gobs of ink, is foremost an essay on the lusciousness of red, from crimson to salmon to cherry, from high-gloss to a nice, powdery matte. It is likewise emblematic of the way Criqui's art balances visual heat with intellectual curiosity.

* Angles Gallery, 2222 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 396-3797, through March 29. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

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