"Patrick Segui: Curiosa Natura"

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Through March 5 at Shooting Gallery, 839 Larkin (at Geary), S.F. Free; 931-8035 or www.shootinggallerysf.com.

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Thinking inside the box has proven surprisingly fertile for many artists, including, most famously, Joseph Cornell. Patrick Segui, a San Francisco artist born and raised in Paris, uses a similar assemblage approach, but his aesthetic is a rich intersection of circus freak, sailor fetish, Edwardiana, and anatomical models. His shadow boxes and collages evidence a meticulous craft: He sketches out a blueprint, carves the cardboard into layers, and paints the fine details. From a distance, the boxes can look a little like cartoon panels, but as soon as viewers approach they find themselves drawn into a three-dimensional diorama and involved in small dramas that might feature a squid, a skull, or surreal insect. This new show promises 25 new works inspired by 19th-century natural science, so leave lots of time for gawking; if you have a monocle, by all means wear it.

 
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