Earlier this week, we got a chance to take a sneak peak at Heiner Contemporary, a new Washington art gallery opening to the public on Friday with a free reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Located in a smallish Georgetown space — just under 1,000 square feet, with the back opening onto a pleasant outdoor courtyard — the gallery joins Addison/Ripley Fine Art and Susan Calloway Fine Arts in the quaint Book Hill neighborhood. The inaugural show “Polychromatic Projection” features the work of Brooklyn-based painter Elizabeth Huey.
Now, about the art.
Huey, who studied psychology at George Washington University, uses a kind of painterly collage process, appropriating images from old black-and-white photographs, postcards and advertisements as her reference material and re-imagining them as luridly colored — and often surreal seeming — tableaus. “Freud and Jung,” for instance, features the famous psychoanalysts playing billiards.
The scene seems nutty, like something out of a dream. But Huey insists it’s true.(You can look it up. The two men were, in fact, friends. And there is a 1908 photo of them unwinding during an American lecture tour by shooting pool. Other paintings are just as outlandish seeming, and just as based on historical fact.)
The effect of this and other works, which range in price from $1,500 to $19,000, is theatrical and slightly disorienting. The images are not quite plausible, yet not entirely fantastic either.
Though gallery owner Margaret Heiner says her personal tastes run to traditional figuration — a summer group show will feature portraits of women by women — she hopes to mix things up with future exhibitions, offering photography, video, sculpture, drawing and installation.
On June 18 at 5 p.m., Huey will give a free gallery talk about her work.