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    Surrealism no longer shocks us, since the concept is now almost 90 years old. For those of a certain generation, its potential for silliness was illustrated quite amusingly by the politician-squashing giant foot and flower-spouting tubas of Terry Gilliam's animations for Monty Python's Flying Circus. Yet surrealism hasn't entirely lost its power to tap into those strange visions that emerge in our dreams, nightmares, and sometimes even waking hours. Two Russian-born artists open the year for Davidson Contemporary Gallery with paintings that render surreal symbolic imagery in a realistic style. Alexander Gorenstein presents his odd assortment of objects arranged and lit as one might a stage set, undoubtedly influenced by his background as a set designer. Some of his more incongruous juxtapositions have an innocent tone in line with Magritte's plays on perspective and perception using banal subjects (a bowler hat, a bird, an apple). In Still Life, an artist's small mannequin sits nonchalantly on the corner of a table with some oversized bottles, a freestanding egg, an apple, and a disproportionately small, and nonleaning, Tower of Pisa. Shura Petrov, meanwhile, has a darker vision. His graphic oils are executed with realist precision, but they often depict more disturbing ensembles of figures and allegorical contexts (as in Mystery Train, pictured) closer to the darkest moments of Dali, highlighting surrealism's aptitude for capturing the arresting absurdity and frightfulness of the unconscious. Davidson Contemporary, 310 S. Washington St., 206-624-7684, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Ends Jan. 26.

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