In "Third Romances," his first solo showing, Marke A. Behme explores the seamier facts to love in a score of recent paintings. Though individually crude and jarring, his works successfully hang together in the spacious Felluss Gallery.
While some people may find truth and/or beauty in this show, Behme's acrylic visions of lust and longing and other assorted affectional relationships will leave many feeling cheap and greasy. Sullen, drunken men at the "Shepherd Park" stare and leer at faceless strippers. In "Blind Date," a brooding suburban mother with child sits in grotesque silence, waiting to be loved.
Used and discarded, the female subject of "More Chased Than Enjoyed" wonders sadly if that's all there is. At the "Oriental Bar," a symbolically blond sailor makes his move on an almond-eyed lady who knows the game. And in "Third Rate Romance, Low Rent Rendezvous," the show's sexually suggestive title piece, the slime is almost palpable.
Amid a melange of styles and techniques, the paintings exhibit a few exciting facets. Evocative glimpses of impressionism give some depth to the overwhelming garishness of the acrylic compositions. And "Charlotte" and "Esmeralda," a pair larger-than-life cut-outs, thankfully provide a touch of comic relief. But be warned: There is little joy in this exhibit; don't look here for up-beat sentiments.
The show continues through March 22 at the Felluss Gallery, 1800 Belmont Road NW. Hours are 11 to 5, Tuesday through Saturday. Phone: 234-5000.