La Cienega Area

When long-time Los Angeles artist Maxwell Hendler paints brightly hued Ed Ruscha-like words, his (often-missed) point seems twofold: to present the vernacular as art and call attention to the mysterious process by which the banal is (or fails to be) rendered compelling. Often Hendler's message is locked so deep in the kitschy looking words, we miss it. His sculptural works touch on like ideas with a clearer voice.

A current show focuses on handsome "paintings" made from industrial materials. A long horizontal band of household pegboard with a pristine colored veneer fuses texture, pattern, hue and depth in one prefabricated object addressing formal and philosophic issues of postmodern abstraction such as originality, reproduction, the importance of the artist's gesture and the notion that an idea may count as an art work. Studded metal sheaths that look like construction site remnants and wavy fiberglass awning material are neatly formed into rectangular objects with the craft and design conscious elegance of recent abstract painting.

Inaugurating a new annex space, the gallery also shows promising newcomers who have flowered under Hendler's tutelage. (Asher/ Faure, 612 N. Almont Drive, to Aug. 5.)

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