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Art review: Steve Hurd 'Five Fictions' at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

October 21, 2010 |  7:00 pm

Steve Hurd takes a shotgun approach to painting in "Five Fictions," an exhibition with nearly as many ways of making a painting (five) as works displayed (eight). At Rosamund Felsen Gallery, the tactic pays off in spades, evoking both the try-everything desperation of a culture in freefall and the all-at-once/all-the-time mania of the present.

Steve Hurd End of the RoadThe first group consists of the two largest pieces, "End of the Road" and "Tower of Babel." Each occupies a custom-made canvas whose shape exactly matches the image depicted: the front end of a life-size semi tractor, which appears to be barreling right at you, and a stack of pre-digital audio-visual equipment, its reel-to-reel decks and mixing boards forming a teetering tower that messes with your body's equilibrium.

The second group is made up of three rectangular canvases that initially appear to be juicy abstractions, their surfaces dense tangles of serpentine lines in various combinations of lusciously mixed colors. Then you notice the tiny fairies, each holding a paintbrush and seemingly hard at work. In Hurd's art, the impossible happens. And it's never what you expect.

Each of his three remaining paintings follows an approach all its own. One is a still life of an inflatable globe going flat. Another is all text, a business proposition by an artist who sounds clueless but may be more clever than most. And the third is a drippy picture of a yellow street sign, its warning printed in reverse.

That's how you'd see it in your rearview mirror, too late to heed but with plenty of time for the dread to begin building in the pit of your stomach.

-- David Pagel

Rosamund Felsen Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave., Bergamot Station, Santa Monica, (310) 828-8488, through Nov. 13. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Photo: Steve Hurd's "End of the Road." Credit: Rosamund Felsen Gallery