For decades, Los Angeles artist Tony Berlant has made abstract collages of metal, paper, wood, and steel braids -- nails that are driven into the work and become, like hard dots, part of its surface pattern. His latest work, on display at Brian Gross Fine Art, inhabits a kind of psychedelic, tie-dyed world where fragments and playful shapes cover a photographic canvas that is only partially hidden.The underlying tapestry (often a scene of nature) teases with its incompleteness, and the collaged material affixed to it titillates with an elliptical sweep. Car parts. A woman's hairline. Sunglasses. Fish scales. It's all thrown in.
But then Berlant throws a curveball: an eight-foot-tall collage, Tigertail, that's devoid of obvious imagery and as chalky as the outside of the Taj Mahal. At $85,000, Tigertail is at the high end of Berlant's oeuvre, though its value can't be measured in dollars and cents but in the way it exemplifies that otherworldliness for which he is known.
Tony Berlant's "New Works" continues through July 1 at Brian Gross Fine Art, 49 Geary (at Kearny). Admission is free.
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