Art Galleries

Paintings by Ian Nitta

When: Feb. 13-29 2008

The success of current CGI-fueled fantasy cinema (Lord of theRings trilogy, Harry Potter cycle, and Pan's Labyrinth) shows that mythic quests still appeal to modern audiences (even when real-world evil-smiting goes sour). Ian Nitta's darkly phantasmagoric paintings at Rooz Café depict Dantesque subterranean wastelands populated by strange denizens enacting bizarre rituals. They suggest delight and torment in equal parts and radiate the intensely felt but undecipherable importance of dreams. In "Leviathan Triumphant" a masked male nude, having apparently dematerialized into smoke to escape his cubical iron cage, and now half re-materalized, holds a human skull and a pig's head; beneath him lie sleeping monks whose bodies melt into the ground. In "Divine Trinity," a trinity of male nudes with red catfish/shrimp heads sits, pondering a skull, a heart, and a lantern, while a bee perches atop the central figure's head. Reversing Frank Stella's quip about non-objective art, what you get is what you see. Through February 28 at Rooz Cafe (4252 Piedmont Ave., Oakland) or 510-985-1360.

DeWitt Cheng

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