"China From Within: Contemporary Landscapes by Chinese Photographers" captures the serenity of China's misty mountains and the quiet of its fields so well that only after viewing the delicate beauty of the vegetation and the interplay of water, mountains and sky does one consider the artistry of the medium.
These works of professional magazine and news-agency photographers, shot mostly in color, are similar in composition to Chinese landscape paintings. Growing pains are captured in juxtapositions: The pagoda with a flat modern entryway next to a highway with phone lines and buses is jarring. The fireworks and paper dragons, Tibetan palace and terraced mountains seem closer to our expectations; workers carrying buckets on poles across their shoulders, specks in the rice paddy, could be from any era.
The show of fifty works at the National Academy of Sciences makes do in a small space, with some dramatic pieces hung above others, quashing the impact. The lighting and layout could be better, but it's worth hunting for the Great Wall above the water fountain on the first floor.
"CHINA FROM WITHIN" -- At the National Academy of Sciences, 2101 Constitution Avenue NW, through August 18. Weekdays 9 to 5; call for admittance on weekends, 334-2436.