In the galleries: in two exhibitions, three painters put their brushes aside


"Fauna Flora Figure 101" by Shar Coulson on show at Artist & # 39; s Proof. (Shar Coulson / Artist's Proof)

The impromptu brushstroke was so emblematic of the abstract expressionism that the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein parodied him for decades. But some abstractions of the mid-twentieth century avoided brushes entirely in favor of pouring, dripping and splashing. That these techniques are still fruitful is confirmed by the work of three artists, Greg Minah, Nicole Gunning and Shar Coulson, in two shows a block away.

The "New Material" of the Cross MacKenzie Gallery reflects how Minah and Gunning add water and clay, respectively, to the mix. Minah pours pigment and, while still liquid, turns the canvas to cause gestures that flow and cross one another. Sometimes it sprays the surface with water or air, partly removing the paint but leaving spectral contours where the edges of the rivulets have dried. These can stand alone or serve as bones to be overcoated with layers of multicolored skin.

The Baltimore artist has undertaken several variations on this strategy. Some of the resulting images are pastel and chalky, while others are brighter and opaque. The most recent work presents plots that seem feathered, as if the intricate overlaps continued to flutter. Minah freezes the flow of paint, but the sense of movement remains.

Mainly a ceramist, Gunning has already shown his terracotta nude self-portraits. Currently without access to a kiln, the artist D.C. it has turned into sketches of colored bentonite on canvas. The three-dimensional clay is flanked by motifs reminiscent of coral reefs, rocks covered with lichens or, as the title suggests, a "Kelp forest". Although a single color background holds together, the colors and tufts are surprisingly unpredictable.

Shar Coulson's mixed paintings, whose "Percezione contro realtĂ " is an artist's proof, are somewhat more traditional. The work of the Chicago artist begins as abstract but comes to include suggestions of nature and images of the landscape. (His current series is entitled "Fauna Flora Figure.") Some brushstrokes are evident between the layers of wax and acrylic paint, like the charcoal lines.

Yet Coulson uses tactics similar to those of Minah. Rotate the canvas regularly so as to approach the composition from new perspectives. In addition, it repels the pigment it has applied, both to produce weather-resistant plots and to open areas for new raids. The completed images feel delicate but physical, combining subtle nuances and robust gestures. Coulson's tributes to the flora and fauna are just as many celebrations of the act of painting.

Greg Minah and Nicole Gunning: New Material Until November 14th at the Cross MacKenzie Gallery, in 1675 Wisconsin Avenue. NW.
Perception against reality: an exhibition of works by Shar Coulson
Until November 25th at Artist & # 39; s Proof, 1533 Wisconsin Ave. NW.

Alvarez Yurcisin, Sherrill Evans and Shellow

The circles and the reused objects are two of the three reasons for "Open System", the show by Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin at the Visonts Concourse Gallery. The inspiration for the third component could be explained by a note from the gallery that reveals the current field of study of the local artist born in Mexico: urban planning. Alvarez Yurcisin often deploys his pieces of objects found in grids as ordered as any plot by Pierre L'Enfant.

Alvarez Yurcisin builds boxes – he calls them "cages" – with shiny colored ribbons and cassette tapes. On the floor, four panoramic photos define the sides of an empty rectangle. The circular shapes of floppy disks without houses are mounted in neat rows. Other ready-made rounds include a Rolodex, exercise wheels for small animals and paper and vinyl hoops on which viewers must "write your circular thoughts".

The work suggests historical cycles and production processes. These pieces are, after all, a form of recycling. Many of the things Alvarez Yurcisin employs are technologically obsolete, but she is not limited to retrieving them. Use their elemental forms to illustrate a kind of eternal recurrence.

Nearby, in the Common Ground gallery of the headquarters, Andrea Sherrill Evans deals with a different type of environmental concern. His "Invasive" is a series of small and precise drawings of non-native plants that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic. Kudzu, English ivy and others are rendered in silverpoint, a millennial technique that transfers the lines of real silver to paper. Although the effect is subtle, the images of Sherrill Evans describe leaves that are profuse in a savage and even dangerously profuse way.

The organic image is less literal in Leslie Shellow's "The Substance of Matter", downstairs in the Gibbs Street Gallery. The wind and the water are represented by watercolors and collages in the work of this artist who, like Sherrill Evans, teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. The show includes small black and white ink paintings on paper in the classical Chinese mode and three larger pieces executed directly on the wall. Shellow also projects waves and sea grass videos on one of his photos. Whatever the medium, the artist tries to transmit at the same time intensity and ephemeral.

Fabiola Alvarez Yurcisin: Open System; Andrea Sherrill Evans: Invasive; Leslie Shellow: The Substance of Matter Until November 18 at VisArts in Rockville, 155 Gibbs St., Rockville.

"A Bird for the Sportsman" by Zoe Charlton on display at G Fine Art. (Zoe Charlton / G Fine Art)

Zoe Charlton

The two great collages of paintings that make up "The Migration" by Zoe Charlton tell a compelling personal story. But the form of the G Fine Art exhibition is as interesting as its content.

Originally commissioned by and produced at Artspace San Antonio, both pieces begin as a painting of a nude-colored woman, representing Charlton's ancestors. From the bodies grow green profusions, reminiscent of the Florida farm owned by the grandmother of the Baltimore artist at a time when few African American women were landowners. From the tree stand flocks of foreign birds that open up to the rear corner of the tunnel. Some are realistic renderings; others are just silhouettes cut out of decorative papers.

Birds in flight evoke freedom, as well as almost unlimited composition. The central part of each work of art is on a rectangle of white paper, but its edges almost fade into the white wall, and the cast elements protrude from the paper and cross the room. The art of Charlton breaks through the frame until it reaches the corner of the room, where a bird's head is cut to indicate that it has reached the border. "The Migration" celebrates fertility and abandonment, but jokingly recognizes that even the greatest visions have limits.

Zoe Charlton: The Migration Until 17 November at G Fine Art, 4718 14th St. NW.


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