Astrid Preston's latest paintings continue her evolution away from Southland architectural pastiche to a fascination with the contradictions of landscape itself. Using a horizontal format, Preston's highly formalized compositions set up a series of contrasts as the work is "read" from left to right.

"Night/Day," a nighttime depiction of a suburban house surrounded by trees and shrubs, is bathed in an aura of bright light that expresses a sense of domesticity, of the comforts of hearth and home. The scenario metamorphoses, gradually opening out into a sunlit glade in emerald green that recedes into a mysterious distance. The cut-out "shape" of the spotlit house receives its complement in a bright patch of blue sky, setting up a yin-yang between night and day, artificial and natural light.

While Preston scores some interesting points in contrasting man's civilized milieu with the untamed landscape, a contrived sense of the sublime with a "natural" one, she unfortunately tends to mythologize nature in the process. (Krygier/Landau Contemporary Art, 7416 Beverly Blvd., to April 1.)

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