Santa Monica

Lavi Daniel paints pastel bowling pins floating in the air or fields of colored balls suspended as if in an anti-gravitation chamber. The artist is in his early 30s; this is his debut commercial gallery exhibition and it shows. His paint is raw, his handling of space fitful, but he's gifted and can't help showing off. In the ball paintings, some of the circles turn into fields of holes through which we glimpse a figure. It's instant shtick and he likes the device so much, it runs through most of the show right from the git-go in "Destroyer."

It looks as if an artist's palette or a piece of Swiss cheese is on fire. We can see a pair of knees through one hole, and a flame is shaped like a girl's behind. A sophomore might find it all a profound study in human perception. Anybody past the gee-whiz phase has got to find it tricky and as accessible as a 7-Eleven. It's Daniel's dead-end. His authentic sense of the lyric and love of the real is his life raft. (James Corcoran Gallery, 1327 5th St., to Feb. 6.)

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