Richard Prince is one of the most talked-about and headline-grabbing artists working today, but it's not always a lovefest out there. His careerlong strategy of using imagery culled from the worlds of pop culture and commerce has evolved with technology from simple “re-photography” to digital manipulation, with Prince bringing expert draftsmanship and lively painterliness to both abstract and depictive modes. A maverick by nature, Prince's attraction to the icons of the Old West — specifically, how those images are used in cinema and literature and then reused in advertising — feels right somehow. And for his hotly anticipated new show, “Richard Prince: Cowboys,” the artist both revisits and updates what is arguably his most beloved, and personal, character. In a series of large-scale works, his signature avatar — in pixelated, colorful silhouettes — is placed in landscapes that both complete the picture and stand alone as expressive, abstract paintings. As with Prince's celebrated “Nurse” paintings, pulp fiction, vernacular illustration and modernist muscle-flexing vie for visual dominance, even as painstaking craft and cheeky irony vie for control of the message — just before they all ride off into the sunset together. Gagosian Gallery, 456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills; Thurs., Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m.; Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., through April 6; free. (310) 271-9400,

Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Feb. 21. Continues through April 6, 2013

LA Weekly