ART's controversial and lyrical productions; painter Scott Brodie; Scott Brodie in transition

The Boston artist Scott Brodie (who now teaches at Skidmore College in upstate New York) has developed a strong local reputation since the late '70s as a skilled painter of still life. Initially, his style was hard edged, almost photorealist; later, his objects became distorted - shrouded in heavy, impastoed pigment. In short, more Expressionist.

Brodie is showing six large (but modest by today's standards) canvases at the Stavaridis Gallery. His work has taken a decidedly new twist. Whether for the better or not is unclear, for these paintings are too unresolved to indicate either a propitious beginning or a wayward turn. The best that can be said is that they're transitional.

The new twist is the figure - an almost de rigueur preoccupation with current art. Brodie's are generally male and heroic, based on Michelangelesque figures from art history. (In case you don't get it, one is called ''Michael's Slave.'') These statuesque icons are painted in long, brushy strokes in a dual chromatic palette of neon pastels - pink and purple, yellow and blue, etc. The modeling is awkward - startling, in a painter of Brodie's demonstrated deftness. Is he adopting the contemporary craze for crudity or simply unable to handle the complexities of the figure?

In what feels like a disconnected afterthought, Brodie floats several small ceramic vessels - a cup, jar, pitcher - in and around the figure. These are painted in an oppositional style of smooth precision that characterized Brodie's earlier works.

So what? Despite the interesting tension between figure and object, and between contrasting paint styles, these works don't add up - at this point. Fortunately, in such a promising painter as Brodie we can undoubtedly expect a more dexterous presentation of increasingly cohesive ideas. (Through Dec. 29.)

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