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The first thing to keep in mind when visiting the powerful and affecting Into the Mystic at Michael Kohn Gallery, is that mystical and new-agey/psychedelic are very, very different things. Among the ethereal and witty works by fourteen art-world luminaries from the past five decades of California art, there are multiple approaches to spurring introspection and prying open those pesky doors of perception. The assembled painting, video, sculpture, collage, and prints variously address phenomena of the natural world, even as they flirt with abstraction -- Vija Celmins' impossibly precise, densely detailed depictions of starry skies and choppy seas; Wallace Berman's moonscape collages; David Benjamin Sherry's sand-and-photograph constructs; Agnes Martin's abstract desert; Joe Goode's sunset sky; Jack Whitten's gold-tipped grotto; Bruce Conner's astronomies; and especially the breathtakingly lovely and vertiginous clouds of Simmons & Burke. Allegories of human consciousness like Mark Tansey's intrepid old-timey spelunkers, Fred Tomaselli's (pictured) self-guided tours of the neurochemical landscape, and Bill Viola's unexpectedly emotional video "Visitation," introduce specific symbolic narrative into the mix; while captivating works by Berman (including two of the best examples of his serial photo-grid works you will ever see) as well as those of Ed Ruscha, Larry Bell, and Martin Creed make free use of pop-culture imagery and sculptural puns in their search for underlying meaning. Michael Kohn Gallery, 8071 Beverly Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.;, thru Jan 26; free. (323) 658-8088; kohngallery.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 17. Continues through Jan. 26, 2012

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