LA CIENEGA AREA

Lucio Pozzi is the kind of artist who invites labels, but somehow none of them seem to fit. The New York-based Italian has been associated with Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, performance art, and a rigorous, language-based conceptualism based upon Marxist principles. The secret of unlocking his sensibility lies less in attempting to synthesize these diverse elements than in accepting them as equal parts of a constantly evolving incongruity. Pozzi builds his large, sensuous works on a foundation of historical quotation, filtered through a fantastical dream world. Whether appropriating the machine-age strategies of Futurism, the Surreal imagery of Max Ernst, or the Neo-Expressionist gesture of a Baselitz, Pozzi carefully balances abstraction with figuration, irony with sincerity, and rationality with intuition.

Thus, while "The Scream (The Yawn)" metamorphoses Munch's stark, visceral vision of psychosis into a vacuous, almost superficial exercise in color and composition, "Dust Offering" offers a bleak, ominous psychological landscape, as if the compositional rhetoric of the Renaissance masters had been redefined by Anselm Kiefer. Such stylistic discrepancies seem to be part of an elaborate ploy, with Pozzi manipulating the language of painting as if it were the arbitrary ground rules of a game that no one, least of all the viewer, can win. As a result, Pozzi's works are dictated as much by shifting context and precocious personality as formal idealism. This does little to mollify critics, who would prefer a much greater painterly and conceptual consistency than is offered here. (Jeffrey Linden, 625 N. Almont Drive, to Jan. 10.)

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