Without compromising his unique vision or distinctive style, Lee Mullican was able to embrace many of the attitudes and tendencies of his time — picking up on abstract expressionism, minimalism and even Pop, or, in the case of his work from the 1970s (the focus of this show at Marc Selwyn Fine Art), pattern painting. Mullican filled these canvases with his characteristic cascades of myriad sharply applied vertical lines, but here, instead of coalescing into volatile images, they rain across dark fields in lockstep, creating stuttering but hypnotic rhythms. The evenness of this near-mindless compositional format prevents any possible imagery from forming. More open than most of Mullican’s paintings, these canvases have no center, nor even any real edge; they could go on forever. They are so decentralized that their luminosity seems to come from everywhere at once. This is the “radiant mind” in action. Marc Selwyn, 6222 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 7. (323) 933-9911.
(Click to enlarge)
Shana Lutker, Group Formation No. 3
The equally keen minds of Shana Lutker and Olga Koumoundouros, by contrast, confabulate images so emphatic that they take actual shape in the gallery space. Still, these installations at Susanne Vielmetter embody meditations on heady, if earthly, matters. Lutker’s elaborate configuration of etched mirrors, row upon row of pig figurines and other seeming non sequiturs gradually gives off enough hints to allow you to read the set-up as a broad, and arch, critique of our government — our permanent government. Yes, those pigs doubtless work within the Beltway. And yes, the classical stylings of power, a hallmark of Washington, D.C., manifest in our capital’s idealistic monuments. These various components constitute narrative as obscure as it is elaborate, but Lutker entices us into interpretation nonetheless. Koumoundouros may elucidate the themes of her installations in their titles — Great Expectations and The Wreck of the Hope — but this doesn’t get in the way of enjoying these structures on a visceral level. In one, a peculiarly abject miniature covered wagon type of thing stands forlornly in the center of a small room. In the other, two crossbeams course from floor to ceiling, corner to corner, entangling a chandelier at the top. You don’t have to know what this “means” to get off on its architectural bravado. Susanne Vielmetter, 5795 W. Washington Blvd., Culver City; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru June 14. (323) 933-2117.