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Land's sake 

R. Land's art work offers two things currently in short supply on the Atlanta art scene: One of them is humor.

That snarky wit is evident from the get-go in the Mike Kelley-esque faux-religious banner that dominates the entrance to Land's Crescent Room show. The banner's riff on religious boosterism shows a perky anthropomorphic cross beating the devil to an unholy pulp. Executed in felt, the material of dinky craft projects and all things low tech, "Se Ha Terminado" sets the tone for the element of saucy but always playful critique that defines the admittedly loosely defined solo exhibition of Land's work in War on Terriblism.

With one foot in the world of graffiti and the other tentatively dipping into conceptual art, Land makes a point of distancing himself from the gallery scene and the limited audience it addresses. Though his work lacks a certain conceptual focus a gallery setting might demand, Land clearly relishes the freedom of populism.

Besides its refreshing humor, War on Terriblism also delivers a piquant, cutting attack on the vanities and pretenses of masculinity. His delightfully rude "Untitled (male nude)," for instance, offers a sarcastic riposte to tanned and impervious male cheesecake by topping a rippled, naked hunk with one of Land's signature bug-eyed animal heads. Like blowing the candle out on someone else's birthday cake, the act spoils the intended effect and makes that sexuality into a joke, like the penis separated from its owner and dangled by a mother blue bird above her hungry chicks in the equally funny "Early Bird." The critique continues in the hilarious painting "Two Rides" that appears to lambast the ego excesses of gay muscle-boy culture in its image of two buff guys astride their choppers.

Land draws from a provocative pop lexicon that incorporates kitsch, advertisements, cartoons, underground comix and pornography, often drawing from the lowbrow without dissing it.

Though his work is wildly varying in approach, what remains consistent is the sense of fun and a hands-thrown-up-in-the-air amazement at the ludicrousness of it all. The punchy, fruity colors go a long way, as does the cartoon stylization of the work, to keep stridency at bay, making R. Land's work some of the best work you are likely to see in a bar this year.


War on Terriblism continues through Sept. 11 at the Crescent Room, 1136 Crescent Ave. 404-875-5252. www.rlandart.com.

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