New York newcomer Alfonse Pagano debuts in Los Angeles with inoffensively decorative works that combine canvas painting, sculpture and ideas from collage. He begins with oil on linen canvases painted with gestural royal blues, salmon pinks, rusts and grayed or acid teals frothed up and layered to look like New York School abstraction at its most light handed and romantic. To these canvases Pagano adds clusters of narrow, foot-long lengths of wood (like those scraps you use for stirring paint), their edges jagged as if cut to size with a quick blow over someone’s knee. Painted in the same style and hues as the two-dimensional canvas grounds, the wood embellishments have an engaging way of both merging with flat forms and standing away as independent sculptural components.
Whether scattered on works like 3-D versions of all-over gesture (“Rush to Relics”) or bundled at one side of canvases like wheat sheaths tied and ready for market (“Spent Time Wasted Time”), Pagano’s wood (and occasional barbed wire and copper) accents serve expressive and formal ends. In “Heros,” wood takes the form of vaguely anthropomorphic cutouts mounted some distance from the slapdash canvas field and coiled in thin metal tubing to suggest fettered bodies or a literal shape overrunning the surface only to be contained by line. Initially Pagano’s high-relief metallic looking finishes, colliding bits of rough-hewn wood, encaustic, copper and barbed wire concoctions look like distant cousins of junk sculpture, but they’re too prettified and tamely wistful to be industrial art. (Wenger Gallery, 828 N. La Brea Ave., to March 15.)