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Art Capsule Reviews

A picture of our opinions on local exhibitions

"Tjukurrpa: Aboriginal Paintings of the Dreamtime: New Works from Ikuntji" On Feagan in the booming West End sits an exotic treat for art lovers in Houston. The works in this exhibition, a group show by artists from the isolated Ikuntji region of Australia's West MacDonnell Mountains, incorporate the traditional stippled designs of Aboriginal bark painting, but also diverge from standardized styles. The flat planes and distorted perspectives, in primary colors with overt outlines, are similar to those of American folk art, depicting life in Ikuntji with their simplified imaginative shapes. In a significant break from stereotypical Aboriginal technique, Daisy Napaltjarri Jugadai paints the surface of her canvases with flat brush strokes depicting real space, at once from above and at eye level. This exhibit is a divergence from the traditional styles of artists from Alice Springs and Amata, deepening our understanding of Australia's diverse community of artists. Through July 12 at Booker-Lowe Gallery, 4623 Feagan St., 713-880-1541. — SC

"When the Animals Rebel" The fifth installation of Rice Gallery's Summer Window series is a striking combination of painting and sculpture incorporating thousands of hardcover books, stacked against and affixed to the 16-by-44-foot wall behind the gallery's glass facade. When the Animals Rebel is Los Angeles-based artist Mike Stilkey's expressionist fantasia, which imagines a clash between humans and animals. Stilkey claims he knew nothing of the German painter Otto Dix (1891-1969), although Stilkey's spindly human representations bear an uncanny resemblance to the German expressionist's work. One could conceivably spend an hour or two perusing the book spines, titles and illustrations on display, stepping up close and retreating back to take in the massive work. The range of book titles includes Herman Wouk's The Winds of War, Ivana Trump's For Love Alone and even a series of old Rice Campanile yearbooks. Stilkey's happily revolting animals seem to swarm and overwhelm their sad-eyed human opponents, one of whom is an elegantly rendered caricature of a young Bob Dylan. It's perhaps a reference to the wonderfully lyrical and poetic environment of the piece. On view through August 31. 6100 Main, 713-348-6069. — TS

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