Category Archives: Freelance Writer

In the galleries: In ‘Gilded,’ artist Takefumi Hori applies Midas touch

Can a painting be both austere and opulent? That’s the tension in the work of Takefumi Hori, currently at Long View Gallery. The show is titled “Gilded,” because the Brooklyn-based Japanese artist employs gold (as well as silver and bronze) leaf. In a few of the works, smears of gold embellish paintings of concentric black circles on mostly white fields. Other canvases are dense with metallic leaf and pigments, suggesting abstract expressionism as refashioned by someone with a Midas touch.

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Persian calligraphy takes flight

In the late 14th century, Mir Ali Tabrizi, a calligrapher in the royal workshop in Tabriz — a city then ruled by a Mongol dynasty, now part of modern-day Iran — had a life-changing dream. The prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali, a revered figure for Muslims who is also seen as the progenitor of Islamic calligraphy, appeared in his dream and told him to create letters “like the wings of flying geese.” And so, the legend goes, nasta’liq, a calligraphic script primarily used to write Persian poetry, was born.

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In the galleries: A look at apartheid’s cruel costs

Delivered more often with irony than with outrage, the commentary in “A South African Sketchbook” can nonetheless be devastating. The five-artist show, at Robert Brown Gallery, rarely addresses the country’s former apartheid regime directly. William Kentridge, the best-known of the group, depicts an unsettled land, or comments on the country’s dependence on extraction industries by drawing a landscape on an old ledger sheet from a mining company.

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5×5 project serves up public art with a side of D.C. flavor

The heaviest of the rain was over by the time the soggy parade turned the corner from 14th Street SE onto Good Hope Road. As the dancers, musicians and onlookers moved from the Frederick Douglass House to the Anacostia Arts Center, one voice began to chant, “It don’t mean a thing/If it ain’t that go-go swing.”

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In the galleries: A meeting of lines in art and architecture

Architecture has a natural affinity with printmaking. Buildings begin as lines on paper and are increasingly likely to end up as unadorned assemblies of right angles and blank planes. There are some pictures in the Old Print Gallery’s impressive “Form, Light, Line: Architecture in Print” that are similarly stark. More of them, though, exalt the details of commercial, industrial or ecclesiastical structures.

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In the galleries: ‘Transient States’ illustrates Steven Walls’s rigorous realism

In many ways, Steven Walls is a rigorous realist. His “Transient States,” at Target Gallery, includes precise brushwork and immaculate detail, as well as homages to pre-impressionist Édouard Manet. Yet the North Carolina painter sometimes adds a touch of computer-age surrealism, disrupting his pictures with areas of pixel-like patterning.

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In the galleries: In ‘Everyware,’ new-technology photo pieces exhibit nostalgia

The three artists whose photo-based work comprises “Everyware” utilize the newest stuff: tablets and smartphones outfitted with such apps as Picfx and PhotoForge2 and linked to image-sharing services such as Instagram and EyEm. Yet the collages or “remixes” at Project 4 Gallery, which mostly riff on architecture, exhibit a nostalgia for early-20th-century modernism. The blocks of color, geometric forms and other elements emulate Weimar Germany’s Bauhaus, Soviet Constructivism and Holland’s De Stijl, as well as old-fashioned letterpress typography.

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British Players offer bawdy fun at the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium

In 1751, King George II signed “An Act for the better preventing Thefts and Roberries, and for regulating Places of publick Entertainment, and punishing Persons keeping disorderly Houses” that banned brothels and the kind of bawdy entertainment so enjoyed by the London populace. Neither brothels nor such “publick” entertainment was deterred. Flashing forward a couple of centuries, we have the British Players who, for the past 50 years, have been keeping the bawdy spirit of the music hall alive and well in the Washington area.

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In the Galleries: Putting the ‘gold’ in ‘Gold Rush’

In icons and other classical religious paintings, gold leaf plays a paradoxical role: a substance prized for earthly value symbolizes otherworldly holiness. These days, the filmy metal is often used in nonsectarian work, including some of the paintings and mixed-media pieces in “Gold Rush,” at the Mansion at Strathmore. But this show often evokes pious art, and one of the two participants, Thomas Xenakis, scatters traditional Christian icons among his other work.

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D.C. exhibit showcases artwork inspired by writings of Octavio Paz

What does a red Cy Twombly scribble have in common with a rough-hewn image of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman — or with a thicket of hooks affixed to a wooden board?

All three artworks illuminate the writings of Octavio Paz, the Mexican poet and essayist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990. And all three are on view — with a profusion of other two- and three-dimensional pieces — in the exhibit “Octavio Paz: De la palabra a la mirada,” at the Mexican Cultural Institute through July 31.

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