Aging and abandonment aren’t the only enemies of monumental structures. Other Herber paintings evoke the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and the April collapse of a factory building in Bangladesh. Less specifically, but vigorously, “Swept Away’s” slash of raised cardboard suggests collapse and disarray. When the artist’s palette turns brighter to depict old but less-weathered buildings in “Motel” and “Factory,” her work takes on a Hopper-like quality.
Also included are several more traditional paintings by Valery Koshlyakov, a Russian artist who spends much of his time in Paris. He uses cardboard to depict venerable structures, including the remains of imperial Rome and the main entrance to Rouen’s Notre Dame Cathedral. Employing white and brown tempera to accent the tan cardboard, he conjures edifices that have endured, however battered.
The third painter is Steve Keene, a New Yorker whose repeated motifs draw on American history and Andy Warhol. Keene reveals his Washington-area origins with “Northern Virginia,” in which Civil War soldiers march through a list of skirmishes that includes the names of NoVa shopping malls. If the battle of Sparrows Point has been lost, the war of Tysons Corner continues.
On view through Sept. 27 at the Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St. NW; 202-289-1200; www.goethe.de/washington
An ambitious group show on a monumental theme, “Knowing” presents 19 Maryland artists’ musings on Eve’s expulsion from the garden of Eden. (Well, Adam, too, but there are a lot more representations of Eve.) Curator Maniane E. Chettle asked the participants to contemplate nudity, the exchange of innocence for knowledge and the effects of separation (from God, or whatever). As might be expected, many of the responses to these ageless concerns take contemporary forms: video, performances and installations.
The assemblages benefit from the exhibition’s venue, Area 405, a large industrial building not far from Baltimore’s Penn Station. It’s no Eden, but the space’s high ceilings and partition into two rooms offer many opportunities. Alzaruba recasts doorways between the rooms into portals to and from paradise. “Expulsion,” with its grasping red hands, is particularly vivid. Laure Drogoul’s “Father Sky” nearly scrapes the ceiling yet has room only for a pair of shoes and spats, with the rest of the deity suggested by flashing red, green and blue disco lights.