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Santa Monica

Photography’s historic stop-action sequential pictures of athletes in motion are the basis for Reuben Ramot’s blue steel figurative cut-outs. To mimic the sense of movement captured in the photos, figures are presented in triplicate. As a way of suggesting movement, the sequential gambit is strangely static. It has the graphic, two-dimensional quality of a beginning design problem but fails to add a sense of real motion to the sculpture.

More interesting is the way the figures, pared down two dimensions and replaced within their negative space, suggest volume. Ramot uses an updated Constructivist vocabulary of flat cookie-cutter silhouettes, sliced with precision from sheets of metal and then remounted at right angles within the original negative space. It is a simple device that can quickly be exhausted but Ramot seems to be nudging it into other areas of concern. In “Iron Bell,” the athletic figure is supported by a brass scaffolding that brings up issues of architectural space and mass displacement. It’s a promising area but too early to tell where or how far the artist will push it.

Jean Edelstein’s small watercolors of women combing their hair suggest pale Paul Gauguins in their reverence for uncomplicated nature. But they lack that artist’s bold color and his exotic passion for life. Flat color moves insistently over the underlying pencil lines combining to deny the bodies’ solidity and reality. It’s as if the liquid color and the pictured act of washing are meant to unite in a blurry kind of communal ritual where innocence is cleansed of sensuality. (Ruth Bachofner Gallery, 926 Colorado Ave., to April 22.)


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