The collages kinda look like a cross between John Baldessari and Llyn Foulkes, with a dash of early Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince (both of whom knew his work back when) thrown in for good measure; but John Stezaker’s small black-and-white silhouette superpositions and split-down-the-middle face-montages come from a different tradition and have, finally, a whole different feel — and meaning — to them. Stezaker’s Pop noir, coming if anything out of the early collages of fellow Brits Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton, tweaks genres and mediums and the modern process of (cinematic) icon making, burlesquing the clichés Hollywood generates both on and off the screen. They are not about meaning, they are about function — but the goofy alterations they visit on visages, stuttering or smushing the eyes of head shots, entertain anyhow, taking broad vaudeville liberties with no-longer-familiar faces.
For cool American photo-conceptualism, turn to Sarah Charlesworth, whose latest color prints, large as posters, run through permutations of color chips — actually, shallow dishes of pigments and tints — constituting a mock exercise in color theory. Actually, Charlesworth’s luminous laminated late-model Fujichromes each calls attention to itself, breaking imaginary ranks to pose a conceptual-perceptual riddle with no logical answer; instead, their collective raison d’être is to break logic with pure — well, impure — optical beauty. Even more than Stezaker, Charlesworth avers that what you see is also what you see. John Stezaker at Richard Telles, 7380 Beverly Blvd., L.A.; Tues.-Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru Nov. 18. (323) 965-5578. Sarah Charlesworth at Margo Leavin, 812 N. Robertson Blvd., W. Hlywd.; Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; thru Nov. 25. (310) 273-0603.