Introducing the latest crop of Hamiltonian fellows, Hamiltonian Gallery’s “new. (now). 2013” ventures into political territory. Among the five-artist show’s confrontational works are two by Larry Cook. “M.L.” is a manipulated video of Martin Luther King Jr., waiting at a microphone and looking wary. “All American” depicts three figures, symbolically color-coded: models dressed in the battle gear of the Bloods (red) and Crips (blue) flank one in a Ku Klux Klan robe (white). The triptych may not be a fair representation of the U.S.A., but its bristling hostility is true to one aspect of the American character.
Eric Gottesman addresses life in the Global South with a video of a guffawing Ethiopian boy, shot from below, competing in a laughing contest at what’s identified as “The 1st Annual AIDS Orphans Comedy Festival.” He is also showing a series of self-photographs of a young Ethiopian woman who has shifted names and identities less as an art project than as a means of survival.
Lisa Dillin invokes a different sort of struggle to endure — of an entire species, not just an individual — with a vinyl floor-tile representation of a tiger-skin rug. “Dead Ethiopian” is the most politically charged of the paintings by Will Schneider-White, who combines child-like imagery with sophisticated textures and palettes.
Of these young artists, all recent MFAs, the only one who presents a world entirely of his own making is Joshua Haycraft, who works in plastic and video. Small sculptures that combine natural and synthetic material echo forms seen in a short video with a long title. “BHBITB Meditations 3: Invocations” features a godlike male figure, overlapping pulsing circles and triangles. This HD vision may be mystical or anti-mystical, but it seems very American.
new. (now). 2013
On view through Sept. 7 at Hamiltonian Gallery, 1353 U St. NW, Suite 101; 202-332-1116; hamiltoniangallery.com
Although it usually shows figurative work, Marin-Price Galleries has assembled an intriguing group of nonrepresentational pictures for its current show, “Abstraction.” Of course, the line between the two genres is not impermeable. Some of the strongest paintings are by William Woodward, a longtime George Washington University art professor who is better known for realism, notably historical murals. Among his pieces here is “Carrara,” whose mottled earth and stone hues are strikingly framed by a hotter violet around the edges.
The show spotlights German-born Werner Drewes (1899-1985), one of this country’s first notable abstractionists. His “Dream of North Africa,” a geometric composition with hints of landscape, is appealing if uncharacteristic. Most of the other artists are local. There are two early canvases from Leon Berkowitz, made before he developed his luminous color-gradation style (although there are hints of it in 1972’s “Duality No. 25.”) James Hilleary’s “Reflection Series,” small works rendered with pastel, are elegant two-toned evocations of light. They’re contrasted by Lila Snow’s paintings, which are larger and busier. Her “Diebenkorn’s Song” incorporates postage stamps and fragments of Russian and Japanese text into an expanse of pink, yellow and orange. If more playful than Drewes’s work, it feels just as well-traveled.