“Off the Clock,” the first museum show of Los Angeles-based artist Math Bass, doesn’t evoke the abandonment of work so much as improvisation. Embracing an improv method, the artist uses a restricted set of elements—a limited palette of primary-school colors and crisp-edged forms—as a springboard for imaginative possibilities, often resulting in dirty jokes. The gouache-on-unprimed-canvas works of the “Newz!” series anchor the exhibition. In these compositions, Clip Art-like shapes gain meaning when combined: two cylinders become a butt; a triangle with a fluted interior resembles an alligator’s mouth. Paradoxically, Bass’s three-dimensional work tones down the bawdy humor to favor an inside-baseball approach. A form resembling a crouching figure is covered with a Buren-like striped sheet; stacked flower pots channel Brancusi; concrete casts of legs in jeans recall Nauman.
Pictured: Math Bass: Newz!, 2014, gouache on canvas, 44 by 42 inches