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Two new exhibits at the BMoCA stress the roles of women in art.

The artist's hard-edged abstractions, which have been shown extensively in Europe, are very obviously based on the universal signs seen in multilingual Europe, like the circle with a line through it, meaning "do not enter." He is also obviously influenced by the postmodern semiotic movement. Originally relevant to linguistics, semiotic theory focuses on the meaning of symbols. It became an important current in contemporary art theory in the 1980s.

In this show, a pair of portfolios has been placed in each of the side galleries; on the north is an untitled series of screen prints and etchings, and on the south is a newer series from 1998.

In the large back space of the East Gallery is the impressive acrylic and oil stick on canvas, "Untitled, Volume IV From the New Edinburgh Encyclopedia." The painting is a mammoth, four-panel assemblage in which photo screen prints of the wood engravings from the nineteenth- century volume mentioned in the title are arranged and contained within color rectangles of white, red, green, blue and yellow.

"Fold 20," by Linda Bessemer, acrylic painting.
"Fold 20," by Linda Bessemer, acrylic painting.
Untitled sculptures by Matt Mullican.
Untitled sculptures by Matt Mullican.

Filling the rest of the room are five sculptures (called "objects" by Mullican) made of painted aluminum. These simple polychromed sculptures from 1990 -- the oldest things in the show -- are absolutely fabulous. They are the three-dimensional corollaries of the iconographic forms seen in the prints.

The two shows couldn't be more different from one another. But there is one thing they have in common -- they're risky and just the latest episodes in Payton's long-running experimental program at BMoCA.

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