Skot Anderson belongs to a growing breed of artists usually described as "Post-Punk." These schizoid iconoclasts ravage Pop culture and cartoon comics for their iconography, while their raw, often deliberately crude execution usually treads a line between Neo-Ex paintings and newspaper graphics. Armstrong is particularly unusual, however, because he also moonlights as a staff artist with the IRS, producing posters and training aids that use utilitarianism as a palatable disguise for an extremely twisted world view.

His paintings, collectively titled "Modern Archaeology: New Research in Culture and Paint," are clearly more than the sum of their often simplistic parts. With their palimpsest-like reworking of found materials and sketchy juxtapositions of media superheroes and alchemical formulas, they seem at first glance to criticize various vacuous styles.

A closer reading indicates that Armstrong is more concerned with revealing hidden layers of signification than exploiting easy satire. His concern here is clearly with the darker psychosis that underlies the slick, seductive surface of the media arts establishment, particularly its marketing of sugar-coated violence as patriotic heroism. Thus, for example, Batman and Robin, James Bond and Superman are exposed as lawless vigilantes more akin to Dirty Harry than paragons of virtue. Disney's "101 Dalmatians" are stripped of their anthropomorphic cuteness and presented as they rally are: carnivores. This is not a slick or pretty aesthetic package, but it's often a thought-provoking one, more interesting perhaps as conceptual art than painting. (James Turcotte, 3517 West 6th St., to Jan. 3.)

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