In the aftermath of Wall Street’s near-collapse in 2007-2008, several Washington art dealers retreated to their homes, where they could see clients by appointment. When Aaron Gallery closed its longtime Dupont Circle location in 2010, Annette Aaron took a different approach: She hung art in the hallways, reception areas and conference rooms of two D.C. office buildings. And this month, those exhibition spaces, which are usually open only by appointment, will be open once a week — Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2101 L St. NW and Mondays from noon to 5 p.m. at 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW.
Aaron’s paramount artist is a Barcelona-born local painter, Javier Cabada, whose abstract and figurative works are linked by his flamboyant use of color and gesture. Cabada’s work includes portraits, still lifes and figure studies, notably of dancers. A recent series, “Chromatisms,” shows lovers in erotic (if not explicit) communion. Some pictures are more realistic than others, but the bodies are often segmented into blocks of color, showing Picasso’s influence. Although Cabada’s style is not unprecedented, it appears fresh, thanks to the artist’s free hand and intense hues.
Aaron represents 11 other artists, most of whom share Cabada’s stylistic exuberance. Nia Tavlarides Stratos blows pigment through straws to conjure spiraling, multihued clouds, laced with gold. Erica Rukin contrasts hard and soft forms and cool and hot colors, frequently pitting red against green. Chico Harkrader doesn’t forgo such heated juxtapositions, but sometimes turns to earth tones. So does Carol Engles, whose clamorous abstractions can simplify into quieter landscapes.
Aaron Gallery, which also represents sculptors, doesn’t have a house style. It does show several painters who shift naturally between representational and nonfigurative work, but the primary connection among the artists is a delight in the sort of colors that seem especially vivid in the gray, beige and off-white environs the artworks now inhabit.
Javier Cabada and others On view through Dec. 30 at Aaron Gallery, 2101 L St. NW, Suite 800, and 5335 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite 440. 202-234-3311. www.aarongallerydc.com.
In the beginning of Brian Dupont’s art is the word, but that doesn’t mean the Brooklyn artist’s paintings are literally readable. The oil-on-aluminum pieces in “Notes, References and Miscellaneous Debris,” at Adah Rose Gallery, include text by fellow artists and cryptic literary modernists, as well as text from a court decision against art appropriator Richard Prince. But the writings are sometimes erased or obscured, and they are usually abbreviated. Dupont is attracted to the design elements of signage, which is why he has made a series he calls “Ihai,” after the narrow vertical format of east Asian tablets that honor gods and ancestors. Rather than paint Chinese characters, though, Dupont stencils Roman letters.
The stencil’s rigid outline fits the industrial quality of the pieces, some of which are three-dimensional. The artist makes wall-mounted boxes (and the occasional triangle or tube) in metal; they’re mostly painted with factory-like shades of blue, gray and tan but with occasional splashes of red and yellow. The effect recalls pop artists such as Jasper Johns (whose words Dupont employs), yet without Johns’s representational images. These sculptural paintings may not be traditionally beautiful, but they have a battered grace, which suits lines borrowed from the likes of Samuel Beckett.
Brian Dupont: Notes, References and Miscellaneous Debris On view through Dec. 28 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington. 301-922-0162. www.adahrosegallery.com.
Unlike Brian Dupont, Raphael Torres Correa doesn’t paint on metal. But the heavily worked, intricately layered canvases in his “A Dialogue With Landscape,” at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, glisten as if they’re metallic or ceramic — and dripping wet. The Cuban-born French artist, now a D.C. resident, is partial to blue, which suggests that his abstractions are inspired by the sea. Yet the paintings also include patches that resemble oxidized iron or steel.
Cross MacKenzie Gallery is known for ceramics, a medium for which Torres Correa has an affinity. His overlapping washes suggest a potter’s glazes, and he often stretches canvases on a tiled floor to paint, which ingrains patterns that remain in such pictures as the glimmering “Argument de Silence.” Whether evoking water with green-blue blends or fire with red and orange, the artist presents a vision of fluidity beneath hard-shelled surfaces.
Raphael Torres Correa: A Dialogue With Landscape On view through Jan. 3 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-337-7970. www.crossmackenzie.com.
Before she ever saw Paris, Tehran-bred artist Nurieh Mozaffari had a dream-like vision of the French capital. To judge by the paintings and mixed-media work in “Paris Reve,” she still does. The show, at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, depicts the City of Light as a haze of thick gray skies, punctuated by gold gestures that represent gilded cupolas and dome-top statues or, in larger fields, glittering sunlight.
Mozaffari was able to visit Paris after getting a Canadian passport, and she now knows the city as a real place, not just an ideal depicted by other painters. Her smaller pieces incorporate photographs of Parisian streetscapes, but blurred or partially obscured, as if to suggest recollections. That sense recurs in the larger, bolder paintings in a series that’s titled “La Memoire.” Those pictures add bright orange and darker blue to the artist’s foggy palette, but they still have the wispiness of reverie.
Paris Reve: Nurieh Mozaffari On view through Dec. 31 at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-965-4601. www.callowayart.com.
After Frager’s Hardware on Capitol Hill was destroyed in a 2013 fire, Greg Weismantel salvaged some latex paint from the landmark store. But he didn’t use it to paint a local scene. Instead, he took the blackened cans to Utah, where he discovered not one but two links to the D.C. fire. Weismantel’s fiery paintings in “From Ash,” at the Hill Center, are heavy on reds and oranges, shades prevalent in that state’s canyons. They’re also depictions of a landscape whose appeal, in the artist’s words, “comes from its slow erosion . . . its disintegration.
Weismantel’s attempts to balance beauty and decay can be a little busy; he throws in photos, torn canvas and glass micro-beads. Yet the most striking of these pictures seem to melt and cohere at the same time, fulfilling the painter’s vision of a world that is both violent and serene.
From Ash: Greg Weismantel On view through Jan. 4 at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202-549-4172. www.HillCenterDC.org.
Jenkins is a freelance writer.