David Douglas also refers to his work as painting, but it’s photo-based and black-and-white. The Alexandria resident alters the image before and after printing, adding scratches and watery overlays and intensifying areas of light. The pictures here are rustic landscapes and close-ups of flowers, basically realistic but with a beguiling other-worldliness.
James Hunter and Lea Fisher are the more traditional of the quartet, although not all that traditional. Hunter, a Briton who was one of Damien Hirst’s assistants, combines color-field painting with brightness and simplicity reminiscent of pop art, and even more of anime. His canvases feature large, single-hued provinces, separated by jagged multicolor borderlands. Fisher’s work is closer to abstract expressionism, but with thickly impastoed gestures. The Texas artist’s work is more vigorous than Hunter’s, but both have found different ways to reach a similar balance of pictorial chaos and calm.
New Year/New Artists
On view through Feb. 9 at Long View Gallery, 1234 9th St. NW, 202-232-4788, www.longviewgallery.com
The pictures in Michael Horsley’s “At the Crossroad: A Topography of Space, Time and Memory” were made in Nevada, Missouri and other locations, all listed at the District of Columbia Arts Center show. But the local photographer clearly wouldn’t mind if such information were ignored or forgotten. Often grouped in diptychs or triptychs, the images are arranged by visual motifs, not geographic or historic detail. Horsley even digitally “stripped away subtle tonal ranges and modulated other visual information” to make the results more abstract and less documentary.
Regular viewers of contemporary art photography are well aware that realism and detachment are not its hallmarks. But Horsley’s work is in black-and-white, evoking the medium’s pioneers, and is sometimes modeled on the Western landscapes of such 19th-century lensmen as John Hillers and Timothy O’Sullivan. The pictures are presented as large aluminized metal inkjet prints, a modern touch, but their high-contrast style and intense blacks have a classical feel. That these photos were all made in the last seven years seems immaterial.
Last fall, Horsley had an exhibition of 1980s photos of mid-gentrification Washington. (That show, like this one, was curated by photographer and teacher Mark Power.) Here, the single D.C. scene is of a salt dome, which is paired with a Nevada butte. There are additional urban vignettes, mostly of St. Louis, and another urban/rustic duet: rhymed shots of light amid darkness from — well, never mind where they’re from. The goal is not to freeze a place in time, but to step outside where and when altogether.
Michael Horsley: At the Crossroad: A Topography of Space, Time and Memory
On view through Feb. 9 at District of Columbia Arts Center, 2438 18th St. NW, 202-462-7833, www.dcartscenter.org
L.C. Armstrong, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Jae Ko, Stephen Talasnik
The current five-person exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, “Selected Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture,” features three artists who are rarely missing from the venue’s group shows. There’s a draped painting by Gilliam, stained with watery acrylic hues. There are canvases striped by Davis, including one that’s unusual for its limited color scheme and systematic arrangement of lines. There are tightly coiled pieces by Ko, made from rolls of paper and fixed in sinuous stasis by a mixture of glue and either red or black ink.
Several of these are striking, but more noteworthy are works by Armstrong and Talasnik, just because neither artist has shown at the gallery recently. Armstrong contributes a large ink-and-paint abstraction in black and red, covered in resin. Its rich, seemingly tactile surface suggests a piece of worn velvet.
Talasnik, a sculptor as well as a draftsman, combines various sorts of frameworks in four pencil-and-ink drawings from his “Glashaus” series. The precisely looping lines recall industrial structures, roller coasters and Gaudi’s Gothic-modernist edifices, but also botanical illustrations. Talasnik has done installations in public gardens and other outdoor sites, and that seems a natural extension of these pictures’s integration of organic and architectural forms.
Selected Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture: L.C. Armstrong, Gene Davis, Sam Gilliam, Jae Ko,Stephen Talasnik
On view through Feb. 8 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW; 202-328-0088; www.marshamateykagallery.com
Like such precursors as Dali and Magritte, Gabor Szabo grounds his visual impossibilities in strict realism. “Lucid Dreams,” the Hungarian-bred American artist’s Waverly Street Gallery show, includes painstakingly painted people, animals and things, sometimes in the process of becoming something else: classical columns become human arms, a baby emerges from the core of a well-nibbled apple and a nude sports a CRT monitor for a head. Even Szabo’s “Abstract Fantasies,” which recall Futurism’s attempts to depict motion, are hard-edged and cleanly rendered.
In two paintings, the tips of eagles’ wings turn into ribbons. The image, more ceremonial than surrealistic, shows Szabo’s taste for the epic and theatrical. The show’s largest picture is an 11-foot wide portrait of Barack Obama, standing before a wall mural of Martin Luther King, Jr. that’s illuminated by a sunrise. Rather than showing the sly or even subversive eye of a surrealist, the painting reveals an unabashedly earnest vision.
Lucid Dreams: Paintings
by Gabor Szabo
On view through Feb. 8 at Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Hwy., Bethesda; 301-951-9441; waverlystreetgallery.com
Jenkins is a freelance writer.