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Art Review

September 19, 1997|SUSAN KANDEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Passion: At Tasende Gallery, a wide selection of work by Spanish artist Andres Nagel is characterized by bravado rather than sophistication, which is to say it draws you in by virtue of its nerve rather than its appeal.

Nagel's choice of subject matter is revealing in this respect: boxers caught mid-punch, musicians reveling in their artistry, swimmers and hunters. So too is his very mixed media.

This ranges from wildly painted and otherwise festooned three-dimensional wall pieces, which betray the love of excess one sees in late Frank Stella; free-standing sculptures, which conjure alternately (and sometimes all at once) Joan Miro, outsider art and consumerist theatricality (as in a towering structure that appears to pay homage to Coca-Cola); and a series of smaller collages, made of paper, steel and various scavenged items, which are by far the most intriguing works on view.

These likewise boast an obsession with brand-name products, whose labels Nagel affixes to the surfaces when he doesn't sketch them out, as if charting his own tastes and predilections (these seem to run to Beefeater gin, Heinz catsup, Schweppes tonic water and so on). Despite appearances, there is little here that is genuinely Pop. Nagel doesn't go in for irony or the deadpan gesture.

This works to his advantage. Watch out for one work in which a three-course McDonald's lunch is documented with the precision of an architectural rendering. That's passion--of one sort or another.

* Tasende Gallery, 8808 Melrose Ave., (310) 276-8686, through Oct. 31. Closed Sunday and Monday.

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