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In the galleries: The devil is in the details in an exhibition filled with symbolism
By Mark Jenkins
February 22, 2019 at 11:52 AM EST
Albrecht Durer’s engravings, anatomical illustrations, pop-up books and death-metal album covers are among the precedents for Johnny Adimando’s “The Devil of Unapologetic Mirrors.” Although the VisArts show is rooted in traditional line-oriented printmaking, some of the artwork wriggles off the paper and climbs onto the surrounding whiteness, or even into space. Most of the pieces are wall-mounted, but a few are free-standing.
The show’s title, like the art itself, is intriguing and enigmatic. The devil is not conspicuous in the collage-assemblages of Adimando, who works at the Rhode Island School of Design, his alma mater. There are possibly satanic pentagrams — or are they Buddhist mandalas? — and mirrorlike objects often dangle from one side of the constructions.
The work is mostly in black-and-white but with touches of many colors. The layouts are usually symmetrical, and many of the images are symbols of power and potential menace: Snakes, lions, hands and mystic eyes abound. The vibe is ritualistic, as though Adimando intends to cut and paste his way to a transcendent arrangement of found emblems and ornaments.
These baroque and obsessive combines could be a form of spiritual autobiography. The artist described himself as “an over-thinker/analyzer” in an interview with the Beautiful Bizarre website. Rather than attempt to summon Lucifer, perhaps Adimando is merely trying to bring order to an overstimulated visual imagination. The individual parts might be ominous, but at least every skull and dagger is harmoniously placed.
Johnny Adimando: The Devil of Unapologetic Mirrors Through March 3 at Gibbs St. Gallery, VisArts, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville.
Delna Dastur & Maryanne Pollock
Maryanne Pollock, whose paintings are paired with Delna Dastur’s in “Intention/Invention,” sometimes pitches one of her colorful canvases as though it were a tent. She has done that at MPA at Chain Bridge Gallery, but the show would evoke travel even if she hadn’t.
The two artists make mixed-media abstractions that suggest maps and landscapes. Dastur, who tends to earthier tones, dragged an implement through wet pigment to yield parallel curves that suggest tracks in the desert in “Volatile.” Pollock, who employs brighter hues, spanned yellow lines between white and black dots in “Interruption,” which could be inspired by an aerial cityscape or a neural network.
Both women juxtapose straight lines and freehand gestures, although Dastur is more inclined to drip and spatter. Both tend toward allover compositions, but Pollock more often gives her pictures a central focus.
Dastur, who hails from India, divides her time between that country and the Washington area. Pollock resides here full time but lived in Egypt for six years. The result of these experiences is an openness that goes beyond using non-Western decorative motifs. One of Dastur’s contributions to the show is a sequence of painted paper squares that visitors are encouraged to rearrange. Such open-ended pieces are a perpetual journey.
Intention/Invention: Works by Delna Dastur and Maryanne Pollock Through March 2 at MPA at Chain Bridge Gallery, 1446 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean.
The centerpiece of Nina Mickelsen’s Martha Spak Gallery show, “The Beauty of Imperfection,” is a triptych that appears from a distance simply to consist of vertical panels of red, orange and maroon. A closer viewing reveals an asymmetrical array of shapes beneath the uniformly applied pigment. The buried depths belie the pristine skin.
Mickelsen, a native of Finland, attributes part of her style to the cleanliness of Scandinavian modern design. The circle, that geometric ideal, recurs in her work. Screen-printing is often employed to produce regular, repeated dots and rounds in pictures that gently evoke Warhol and Lichtenstein.
Yet the Delaware-based artist disrupts the orderly compositions with messy gestures. One picture stacks eight perfectly round circles with a sloppy one that trails drips. Mickelsen also contrasts blocks of matte color with areas of reflective metal leaf, or embeds rock and marble shards in resin. Although she’s not exactly a landscape painter, crags sometimes protrude from her latter-day pop art.
Nina Mickelsen: The Beauty of Imperfection Through Feb. 28 at Martha Spak Gallery, 40 District Sq. SW.
Vines and petals germinate, spiral and tangle on white fields in Sheila Giolitti’s show at Adah Rose Gallery. If these were the only elements in the Norfolk artist’s work, the mixed-media paintings in “The Splendid Silence, Glorious Performance” would recall flowery fabrics and wallpaper. But Giolitti pits the precise, blossom-hued botanicals against loose gestures brushed mostly in shades of gray. Some of the pictures are on plastic paper, whose unabsorbent surface preserves the sense of liquidity. (Most of these pieces are in a series titled “Laguna,” Spanish for “pool.”)
Giolitti also paints and draws on sanded wooden panels, and sometimes adds depth by layering color and imagery between coats of resin. The show’s most complex drawing-painting flips the usual color scheme to emphasize black and maroon, glistening within and below multiple levels of transparent gloss. Rendered mostly in ink and oils, “Impulse #1” evokes impenetrable night and immeasurable depths. Giolitti most often celebrates nature’s glory with intricate detail, but she can also find grandeur in sights that can’t be represented exactly.
Sheila Giolitti: The Splendid Silence, the Glorious Performance Through March 2 at Adah Rose Gallery, 3766 Howard Ave., Kensington.
When Bob Burgess gazes at flat facades, he’s looking for depth. The local photographer does have a thing for blocks of color, especially if they’re turquoise. But most of the street-level close-ups in “Surfaces,” at Washington Printmakers Gallery, contemplate layers of withered posters, paint and other materials that wrap walls.
Some of the photos depict patchworks so complex that they suggest collages of multiple images. But Burgess’s statement reports that the photos underwent only “minimal” computer editing.
The most direct of the pictures are found abstractions, accidental color-field paintings encountered randomly in Paris, Los Angeles and elsewhere. On a wall Burgess found in Rome, thick orange paint had cracked and crumbled to reveal an underlying crescent of red flanked by a sea of aqua. By chance, this piece of wall decayed into beauty.
Surfaces: Photography by Bob Burgess Through Feb. 28 at Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave. NW.