LA CIENEGA AREA

Elaine Lustig Cohen perpetuates the grand old tradition of Modernism in a show of acrylic-on-canvas paintings plus a few watercolors and painted wood constructions. All are geometric abstractions predicated on dynamic compositions of sharply contrasting color-forms. In the paintings--mostly square in format--you get the feeling of rotating or explosive movement locked into place by the precise weight and diagonal positions of individual components. A zigzag line of red or orange often seems to be the force that imposes a holding pattern on quivering tension.

There's nothing really new to be observed in Lustig Cohen's version of this familiar and now unfashionable genre, except her virtuosity and a refreshing liveliness that pervades her work. Part of the latter comes from a technique of using powdered pigment in acrylic medium that yields a soft, modulated surface; a more subtle part stems from thin outlines of underpainting that encase the flat shapes and lend them an electric presence.

Her wood constructions, made of carpentry-shop scraps mounted on round-cornered tops of Spanish orange crates, are solid pieces of work but are far less prepossessing than the paintings. The comparatively folksy wood pieces seem to trade a rarefied purity for chunky physical immediacy. (Janus Gallery, 8000 Melrose Ave., to Feb. 9.)

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