La Cienega Area

German artist Ole Jurgen Fischer creates energetic abstract oil paintings crammed with patterns and shapes that hint at things we are familiar with. Formidable scale, low luminosity colors and helter-skelter imagery strewn across the canvases then obliterated with quick marks and broad swatches of paint heighten the dense, mysterious tone. Burnished browns, blues and grays ape the look of wood grain and form floating bits of picture frames buried in layers of calligraphic gestures that look vaguely phallic.

Just when you think the imagery is moving toward some thematic resolution, Fischer breaks up your train of thought and visual continuity by overlaying random X's and wild primitive patterning that makes you think of aboriginal body paint. Working in a long tradition of expressive abstraction, Fischer is to be credited for making fresh, eccentric marks. Though he is German and spent years in the United States printing at Tamarind with the likes of Robert Motherwell, his works don't convey the personal Angst of European or American Expressionism. Instead the paintings use visual language to establish and sustain the same tension we feel in a play by Samuel Beckett, where the only relief comes from acknowledging the absence of conclusions. (Jan Turner Gallery, 8000 Melrose Ave., to July 29.)

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