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Perception and Economy of Form 

When: Nov. 9-20 2011
Price: free

Conventional art-historical wisdom dictates that the invention of photography made realistic painting obsolete. It's more accurate to say that it helped opened up new avenues for painting. Alex Nowik's nineteen acrylic paintings explore the still life tradition variously, with orderly compositions of brightly lit objects asserting themselves as flat abstract shapes ("Work Table," "Books with Bowl," "Oranges with Newspaper," "Baby Bok Choi," "Sliced Lemon"), and, more conceptually or satirically, with the randomly chosen objects grouped like strangers warily shepherded together for party snapshots ("Still Life with a Persimmon #2," "Stepladder with a Cat," "Toy Truck," and the insistently anthropomorphic "Yellow Radio"). Everyday objects become character actors in Nowik's deadpan group portraits. As galleristIndira Martina Morre writes, "There is no dramatic significance or hidden ideology, but thoughtful elimination and the exercise of perception." Perception and Economy of Form runs through Nov. 20 at Martina Johnston Gallery (1201 6th St., Berkeley). 510-558-0993 or

— DeWitt Cheng


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