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Brad Eberhard at Thomas Solomon Gallery @ Cottage Home

Brad Eberhard. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2009)

Brad Eberhard. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2009)

Brad Eberhard pits his practice, and the feeling you get from his paintings, between flux and control — laying down paint in washes, dispersals and smudges, but wrangling it by masking, or by painting over so as to crop or recontour one shape with the next. The results are compositions that have a distinctly collaged feel to them (and Eberhard does make collages) though everything you see here is straight-up paint on surface. Images range from the quietly quirky — such as a composition that reads like a portrait of an abstract sculpture of a kiwi bird crossed with an avocado — to the highly charged found in the unexpected, such as an arrangement that converts the movement of koi fish into what reads like a cross between color-field painting and Futurism. Other canvases jump to the geopolitical and cosmic levels, with allusions to flags, globes and worlds in big-bangish formation. Still others deal in oddball interpretations of heraldic narrative, like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which presents two figures — one suggestive of a primitive totem and the other looking like kin to the amoebic/geometric “bride” found in Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass — both carved via overpainting out of a mostly obscured underlying composition, confronting their outward difference while displaying their inner sameness. Such could well be a description of Eberhard’s oeuvre. Aptly titled “As Different as Twins,” this show is a study in how similarities and differences bring one another out in a body of work. Such an investigation of nuance might seem unexpected for a freshly minted MFA, but Eberhard spent more than a decade on the outside between his undergraduate studies at Occidental and his graduate studies at Claremont. This is a pleasurable discovery — the seemingly sudden arrival of an artist whose playfully mature, oddly subtle approach to abstraction signals that he’s someone to count among “painters’ painters” like East Coasters Peter Plagens and Thomas Noskowski, or Angelenos Roy Dowell, Robin Mitchell and Steve Roden.

Thomas Solomon Gallery @ Cottage Home, 410 Cottage Home St., L.A.; Wed.-Sat., 12-6 p.m., through March 14. (310) 428-2964 or www.thomassolomongallery.com.