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If Only... 

When: May 27-July 17 2010

Five tots attached to hyperextendedkiddie leashes wend their way through their mazelike tangles. Rune Olsen's sculptures, made of steel wire, newspaper, archival tape, charcoal, Sharpie pen, and acrylic medium -- and sporting glass mannequin eyes replicating the artist's own baby blues -- are clearly artifacts. Nevertheless, they're disconcerting, and an improvement on Olsen's previous work, hyperbolic duets of love and death between humans and animals. Here, psychological complexity replaces the exaltations of instinct as theme. The smiling, tethered kids could be over-parented or abandoned; the dolls they tote on their backs are their own children as well as self-projections. "If Only (Tigger)" and "If Only (Quinn)" seem relatively benign in tone, but "If Only (Shannon)," with its prone, pigtailed prisoner, takes on, perhaps, more disturbing connotations. Inkjet prints of Olsen's drawing studies are also on exhibit. If Only runs through July 17 at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). 510-444-9140 or

— DeWitt Cheng


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