Jason Yates is a bit of a house divided. On one hand, he is known for his indie-rock posters, found on and subsequently stolen off the walls of Los Angeles neighbourhoods like Echo Park and Silver Lake. On the other, he uses his developed shaggy-rock vernacular alongside gallery-style high conceptualism – mixing compulsive marks with the crosshatch strategies of Jasper Johns, the wall drawings of Sol LeWitt and the obsessive smudges of Yayoi Kusama. The union of such diverse influences is common in LA, where artists like Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw have mixed the id of LA subculture with high avenues of art for decades, basically asserting that both realms are answerable to the same furious dementia lurking underneath. To be honest, there is little to distinguish Yates’s posters from art found on indie coffee shop walls, hawked on the Venice Beach boardwalk or stacked in the old ramshackle studios of the Topanga Canyon rodeo grounds. As in Fast Friends Inc (no date), rough drawings and graphic riffs push to a visual density that quickly becomes a blur of coloured pencil and grotesque figuration. A central figure or head, ranging from fanciful creatures to Captain Beefheart, anchors the composition, and little droves of colour file out and disperse around the head, almost like oceans of saints around the godhead in Byzantine mosaics. These are vibrant but confusing exercises, an aesthetic surely part of the atmosphere in an LA where urban planning collapses into rioting and the high theory often pitched in its many art schools can turn sinister and loud. However, Yates’s new work has its hand on the pulse of another, perhaps deeper brand of LA art that bridges an unwieldy and wonky enthusiasm with more engaged concerns about humanity’s place inside systems, the complexity of the painting surface and how to handle a historical legacy of scepticism without falling into despair. This work is not so much listless urban youth than the strand of art found in MOCA’s landmark 1992 Helter Skelter exhibition, where exuberance was discovered as less a party and more of the dark essence of LA life. Showing Shadows (2008), for instance, stuns with its interlaced visual tricks and conceptual references, recalling the twists on the modernist grid of a painter like Richmond Burton, who would throw visual kinks into the systematics of painters like Frank Stella or the sober proceedings of Niele Toroni. Showing Shadows’s purposes, however, are much less geeky and more obsessive, joyful and aesthetically dense. The austere bulwarks of the stripe fractures into elegant, handwrought hatch-marks, lifting off the canvas and fluttering over reflective Mylar. Yates’s extension of his painting onto a plinth like sculpture in the centre of Circus’s space, as well as a sprawling wall drawing taking over most of the gallery, suggest something dark and menacing afoot here, something in line with the sunshine noir reputation for which LA has become known.