There's a branch of recent painting where the line between art gallery art and illustrative graphic art blurs to near invisibility. Call it Neo-Surrealism, for lack of a cleverer handle. The commercial branch of the style is represented by, say, Matt Mathurin. When this guy does an Op-Ed page illustration or a Time cover, art lovers think he might do well in a gallery.

The flip side of this is that when Steve Galloway turns up in a serious gallery, you think you might like him better reproduced on the pages of Graphis magazine. Galloway shows several large paintings that betray attractions to Rene Magritte and Psychedelic Psurrealism of the Psixties. His favorite thing seems to be a man turning to lava, or a Gumby figure about to disappear in a spaghetti vortex. The works are big and look like paintings, but they are mostly in pastel, a medium favored for commercial art renderings.

There is no question that Galloway offers an above-average dose of both humor and sophistication, but vernacular culture has so long since caught up with him that the work appears to be directed to an audience of teen-agers still ready to be blown away by authority figures rendered as skeletons in a board room. (James Corcoran Gallery, 8223 Santa Monica Blvd., to April 6.)

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World