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First Thursday Report 

Wednesday, Apr 1 1998
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"Matrix/Berkeley: 20 Years"
"To condemn the subversive is to condemn everything that is not absolutely resigned," says Andre Breton, speaking of dada way back in 1924. But even today most of us still think art is paint on canvas on wall. Certain galleries and museums, however, continue to fight -- and with the big bucks still in favor of sentimental art, it really is a struggle -- to keep that subversive dada spirit alive. The Matrix shows have always done just that. Since 1978, this gallery space has kept a separate agenda from the museum it resides in, searching for new modes and manners of art to show, including performance, video, and other nontraditional genres. The current show, "Matrix/Berkeley: 20 Years," features about two dozen pieces from the gallery's history, all by different artists. Keep an eye out for Howard Fried's ladder sculpture, Edge of the Forest, a pretty keen anxiety metaphor. The show is up through July 12 at the Berkeley Art Museum Matrix Gallery, 2626 Bancroft (at College), Berkeley. Admission is free-$6; call (510) 642-0808.

"Catherine McCarthy: Gathering Nectar"
In the spirit of most pomo painters, Catherine McCarthy imports imagery and abstraction for her canvases from just about everywhere. But she distinguishes herself by layering her strange rusty, green palette with a dense melange of text, paint swatches, formal early American landscapes, and dream imagery. Once a year, McCarthy takes a meditative break from painting these large canvases in order to draw flowers. She eventually pulls the beautifully rendered blossoms onto her paintings, spinning a terribly intellectual and sensual personal tale. The show opens at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 4, with a reception (and is up through May 16) at the Hosfelt Gallery, 95 Federal (at Second Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 495-5454.

"East Meets East in the West"
What new news have we from the far, dark red east of China? Technology delivers images to even the remotest of souls and painting doesn't look much different there than it does here. But boy, is it painted well, and it comments on the same old, same old in interesting new ways. Liu Xiaodong's paintings draw your attention to the body and its relation to culture in a subtly oblique manner in Computer Leader and Fat Grandson. Hung Liu undoes both formal and classical elements in Imperial Garden, Black Hand, and Red Bladder. Her formal borders drip or give way to layered abstraction, releasing the main focus of the works, gorgeously painted female forms, from their traditional Chinese ties, thus allowing them to embody more personal, intimate identities. The exhibit is up through April 30 at the Limn Gallery, 292 Townsend (at Fourth Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 977-1300.

-- Marcy Freedman

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Marcy Freedman

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