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Color Coded

Hue imbues its own meaning in disparate works at Century Gallery.

March 30, 2001|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There are identifiable figures and real world reference points in the three-person show at the Century Gallery in Sylmar, but the central subject is color.

For Angelina, the brusque simplicity of her drawing and the ambiguity of her images are of secondary importance to the weird vividness of palette. In Dover Abrams' work, modules of color are pieced together, and figures and scenes are obscured by the presentation, which looks like stained glass.

In another corner, Dale McRaven is the token representative of digital art. He alters and encodes color in his own computer-aided way. His commercial art-leaning work, in which photographs have been tinkered with in the digital darkroom, seems out of place here, compared with the more compelling, hands-on work of his gallery-mates.

But what "Passionate Color" generally adds up to is a casual survey of artists who view color as content and as putty. The title may be a bit misleading in that color is used in ways both passionate and coolly intellectual.

That's certainly true of Angelina's strangely charming work. On the surface, it is crude and direct, and color often lords over form. In "Nude," a spare smattering of red brush strokes conveys the sensuality of a nude without dwelling on specifics of curve or anatomical detail.

"Awakening" is a waking dream, a blast of blue and orange depicting a nude woman apparently crossing the bridge from sleep to wakefulness. "In the Prime of Life," which may well be the best painting in the gallery, finds a woman lounging on a lawn, her form melting into the background and fingerprints smudging the sky. It would be easy to get lost in a painting like this. In the end, what makes it work is the fluid illogic of its color scheme.

For Abrams, a different kind of artistic tension is deployed. The work suggests both the fragmented forms of stained-glass windows and Cubism, in the way the pictorial space is chopped up. In "Don't Hold Back," figures are sliced and diced and seem to be yearning for unity.

"Waiting to Unleash" presents a pleasant menu of orange, blue and green hues, but the center does not hold. Even "All Tucked In," with its cozy view of a female nude and her cat in bed, alludes to some invisible force keeping order or repose just out of reach.

But it's a happy jumble of puzzle pieces liberally coated with colors.

BE THERE

"Passionate Color," by Angelina, Dover Abrams and Dale McRaven, through April 21 at the Century Gallery, 13000 Sayre St., Sylmar. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Call (818) 362-3220.

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