Decades beyond childhood, Daniel Kaufman has found a use for crayons that can only be described as transformative. Melting stick after stick over a surface, dribbling, dripping and pooling like some wax-drunk Pollock, Kaufman allows his kid-stuff encaustic to accrue until it’s stretching across white surfaces like rainbow-colored galaxies — or, even more gloriously, seeping and crystallizing all over the picture plane like molten cloisonné. Describing the results of Kaufman’s work-intensive technique as “butterfly wings on acid” only begs the question: Who’s tripping, you or the butterfly?
Antonio Adriano Puleo is also an advocate of the hyperbeautiful, but his collage-y approach depicts the butterfly as well as the wing. Actually, birds are the usual protagonists in Puleo’s paintings and paperworks, looming large and hovering at the heart of his compositions and celebrated with elaborate patterns and odd motifs as vibrant as the birds’ feathers. Less dense than his previous series, Puleo’s latest ornithological rhapsodies — and related forays into fauna-centric fantasy — conduct themselves with a visual grace that taxes the eye rather less but stimulates it every bit as much. Daniel Kaufman at Robert Berman Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., No. C2, Santa Monica; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Feb. 15. (310) 315-1937. Antonio Adriano Puleo at Cherry and Martin, 12611 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; Wed.-Sat., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; thru Feb. 10. (310) 398-7404.