Jjon Glidden's colors -- the dirty pinks, lime greens and dark aquas, often squiggled and dashed across black backgrounds -- refuse to stay put on his canvases. They come at you like a 3-D movie.
And in his show at Henri Gallery, he has gone his colors one better by applying actual three-dimensional shapes to his busy surfaces -- sometimes geometric, sometimes naturalistic, with sullen, Segal-like body casts nestling among them.
There is a quasi-metaphysical quality here. Glidden's earlier work, by contrast, was solid in both execution and concept. It is as if the temptations of the current Expressionist wave were too much to resist. For those who appreciate novelty, there is an abundance here. And indeed there are those who would say that the superficiality of this work merely reflects our culture.
The exhibition will continue at 1500 21st St. NW through Nov. 28. Expressionist Gaston Ugalde
Gaston Ugalde, a Bolivian living in Washington, believes that art's imperative is moral and ideological rather than esthetic. His reactions to the political and social realities of this city have become his art. It is an art that draws lines, somewhat arbitrarily and generally carelessly, between cultures: the Northwest and Southeast quadrants of this city, for instance, or North and South America. He also draws conclusions, with the same abandon, about wealth and poverty, big government and racism.
Superficially, these works resemble the current crop of German Expressionists, and, hung in Brody's Gallery, which specializes in work of this movement, they have a context appropriate for Ugalde's impulsive gestural style. In fact, this work illustrates the pervasive nature of international modernism, for stylistically it could have been produced by any of a number of contemporary artists from Canada to New Zealand. But Ugalde's goal is political, and to that end he flaunts his careless execution as a badge of authenticity -- much as a revolutionary might wear his bloodstained fatigues.
Ugalde's work is nothing if not timely. One piece is composed of the newspaper, torn and decorated with black and red paint, which announced President Reagan's reelection. The temporal nature of Ugalde's materials reiterates his disdain for "art as commodity."
In "Monument to Northeast I" and "Monument to Northeast II," slashes of paint have been applied to large maps of this city. The lines have been drawn between the districts, and from the Northwest an aggressive white face presses down upon a martyred, Christlike black figure in the Southeast.
The problem for artists who are frankly antiesthetic is that if one has a modicum of genuine talent, the stance cannnot be maintained for long. Instincts eventually prevail, and they have done so in Ugalde's most recent work, "The White House With a Hungry Man". This work reveals a huddled figure, surrounded by a tumult of slashed, smeared and dripped paint, crouching under the oppressive weight of the White House.
His meaning is clear, but it is beside the point, for this painting also succeeds as art. The composition is sound, the contrasts are good and once again estheticism has scored a small victory. The exhibition will continue through December 1. Nancy Cusick's Silk-Screens
The work of artist Nancy Cusick, on view through tomorrow at Catholic University's Gallery of the Department of Art, is focused on the feminine and yet is not feminist, for there is little political content in these silk-screen, folded-paper and collage works. Cusick is more concerned with extending perceptions about the quality of being female. Her art is about fertility and maternity, and the changing and multiple roles women must assume.
Cusick's collages are more complex than the other works, both visually and conceptually. "Innocence/Illustrated Woman Series," for instance, includes bound praying hands that represent both the restrictions and the nobility of the maternal role of women. The exhibition ends Nov. 23.