Ed Moses started a roll last year and he is still throwing sevens. A dozen large paintings and a gaggle of Dadaesque drawings spread over two locations find the L.A. master orchestrating a fast-recognition attack into works of amazing variety.

At first they look like born-again Abstract Expressionism made of meandering wacky ribbons of gray paint that remind you of those Fourth of July worms that made bubbling loops of ash when you set a match to them.

“Gargo Luim” achieves true Zen craziness with a subliminal running stick figure and it looks like we are in for Rorschach transcriptions of the irrational half of the artists brain. A diptych called “Appr. Darg” feels like a failure of nerve. Then it becomes clear that all those tortured loops, kinks, tangles and corkscrew bacilli have an underlying logic that remembers the discipline of all Moses’ years of painting oblique cross-hatch patterns. The seemingly chaotic composition actually describes deep space, making the forms sculptural and opening a vista of atmosphere beyond. Another painting is almost unnervingly illusionistic making bloated paint strokes look like thick cement relief. The process is then reversed in a picture that looks like a photographic negative.

It never gets tricky. Often a kind of romantic landscape lurks behind the grille of strokes--there is a Turner, here a Van Gogh painting Veronese green or an ancient Chinese philosopher allowing elegant red to leech into his blacks.


This is one of those rare occasions in the life of an artist where he can completely let go of any apparent control and still stay in absolute command. It’s wonderful in a ruminative painter like Diebenkorn or Rothko but it is doubly, awesome in an artist releasing as much passion as Moses shows here. I honestly don’t remember it happening just this way since Jackson Pollock. (L.A. Louver Gallery, 72 Market St. and 55 N. Venice Blvd. to Nov. 12)