All three painters showing (appropriately) downtown belong to the dystopian wing of the “newbrow” aesthetic, conflating surrealism, classicism, Pop, movie-poster illustration, and a skin-crawly kind of humor into an ecstatic apocalypse. This is least apparent in Scott Siedman’s knowingly overblown renditions of overly attractive people — ancient Romans, apparently — rendered (in eye-wrenching detail) in the act of mutual seduction. But you get the feeling the fiery glow enveloping these bacchants is more Vesuvian than crepuscular, and that they’re rehearsing the fall of an empire — again. Jeff Gillette imagines what decay already exists on the empire’s periphery, conjuring shantytowns, shack parks and other festering slums teeming with unseen life in the middle of some sort of palmy pondside paradise. It’s more Rio or Manila than L.A., but, in spirit and atmosphere, not much more. Many of Jeff Britton’s furiously painted landscapes are very much L.A. (and the rest might as well be), but an L.A. enmeshed in at best a fever dream of destruction. Freeways collapse in an earthquake inferno, a wild dog snarls in the Hollywood Hills night, tornadoes roar down country lanes — Britton should illustrate Mike Davis’ next book.
Things are rather more sanguine in the Westside precincts, where Stas Orlovski shows painting-size drawings concatenating disparate elements, representational and abstract, into unlikely landscapes, the more compelling for their very incompleteness. For her part, Ilene Sunshine does drawing-size paintings in which colorful, entirely nonobjective elements intertwine with similar playfulness — a low-key antic maintained by her sinewy Tinkertoy wall construction. And maintaining an elegant aloofness, the shimmering unframed paperworks of Marietta Hoferer take classic minimalism to new levels of near-invisible sensuality, their identical horizontal bands defined with pencil and transparent tape.
Scott Siedman, Jeff Gillette and Jeff Britton at Bert Green, 102 W. Fifth St., dwntwn.; Tues.-Sat., noon-6 p.m.; thru June 24. (213) 624-6212. Stas Orlovski, Ilene Sunshine and Marietta Hoferer at Overtones, 11306 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista; Fri.-Sun., noon-6 p.m.; thru June 25. (310) 915-0346.