The show takes its title from a recent series that includes depictions of a cat, a rabbit, a dog in a garland of leaves, and a bird sitting on top of a metal cage rather than inside it. The animals are smooth but rough and lumpy, with steel protruding bits revealing the original shapes of the scrap pieces Frank incorporated. If Alberto Giacometti had made his steep figures out of found metal fragments, they would have looked like this.
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The smaller of the two rooms is devoted to “Remember Andromeda,” a spiral stack of small chair shapes and related paintings of individual chairs made of sheet metal. These refer to the legend of Cassiopeia, the mother of Andromeda and the queen whose arrogance angered Poseidon. It is assumed that Cassiopeia has turned into a constellation resembling a chair. That’s why Frank spins the metal chairs like stars in the sky.
“One of my goals was to make business look finished while still leaving the process crystal clear,” Frank says in his statement. The artist succeeded, but the results are more graceful than brutal.
Marie Anella Frank: A creature of comfort Until April 24th at Fred Schneider Art Gallery, 888 N. Quincy St., Arlington. Open by appointment.
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between heaven and earth
In the severe aerial photo of Tariq Al-Ghussain, a man stands on what appears to be the sloping end of a two-lane highway, gazing beyond the stretch of white sand. This almost empty landscape is not exactly the standard image of the United Arab Emirates, known in recent years for modern urban enclaves like Dubai. But urbanism and modernity are not the favorite themes in Between Heaven and Earth: Contemporary Art of the United Arab Emirates, an exhibition curated by Munira Al Sayegh for MEI Art Gallery marking the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates.
The four photographers in the 12-artist gallery depict mostly uninhabited scenes. Lamia Gargash’s designs are interiors and those of Alaa Idris are computer manipulated to give the architectural elements a sci-fi feel. Augustin Paredes depicts the lives of truck drivers through vignettes, banners, and ephemera. Al-Ghussain evokes loneliness and alienation by including a single figure dressed in black (perhaps the artist himself) whose presence is paradoxical in places such as a surreal desert stadium or a traditional edifice that appears to be deserted.
Sol Y Mar Miller includes palm trees in a decorative pattern on the canvas, and watercolor expert Muhammed Kazem uses densely arranged hanging linens to depict the building’s crowded residents. But most of the non-photographic works are abstract, simple, and often three-dimensional. Sheikha Al Mazrou stacks four steel wooden beams with faces painted blue; Ibtisam Abdelaziz sabotages the tidy target’s design by painting it on corrugated wood. Afra Al Dhahiri buildings are distinguished by a cotton rope to represent human hair. Making art simple and intimate is an understandable reaction to the burgeoning urban expansion.
Between Heaven and Earth: Contemporary Art from the United Arab Emirates Until April 29th at MEI Art Gallery, 1763 North St. Nou. Open by appointment.
Much of the story is submerged, but sometimes visible, in modern paintings of Rush Baker IV. ‘American Sunset’, a Hyattsville painter’s gallery of Hemphill artwork, inspired in part by Tony Horowitz’s book Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War. The results included three paintings entitled “Harpers Ferry” and one entitled “John Brown”. This last piece contains the most representative image of any in this group, although the two warrior figures (one of which appears to be brown) make up only a small part of the complex, mostly abstract image.
Baker paints with acrylics, and increases the brightly colored pigment with plaster and resin, sometimes with paper and spray paint. He layers the material, sands the surface, and then repeats the process several times. “It is about adding and subtracting compositional elements so that the image reveals itself,” the artist explains in an interview published by the exhibition.
Most of the panels contrast blue with rose-red, indicating “battle flags”, two of which are named. A few (including ‘John Brown’) are dominated by yellow that contrasts with swirls of purplish black. Most of the gestures look soft, but some areas are firm and shiny. Most notable is the reflective rose pool at Harpers Ferry II. This Pink Lake is a rare peaceful area in scenic pictures that, although rarely in the literal sense of the word, depicts a civil war. It’s also a kind of mirror, allowing viewers to peek themselves into the chaos of the still-unresolved American conflict.
Rush Baker IV: American Sunset Until April 29th at Hemphill works434K St. Nou.
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The juxtaposition of bold black lines and bright colors provides a vibrant contrast to Amy Guadagnoli’s abstract wood moldings. There is also another discrepancy in “Ritual & Relief,” the artist’s exhibit at the Washington Print Gallery. Besides the prints in his familiar style, there are 15 sketches of small mixed “ritual mourning rites” that Guadagnoli began producing weekly in 2020, exactly six months after his wife’s death. Its watercolors are impressive in contrast to the heavy black outlines and bright red accents of other works.
The first silent, subtle images were titled “Pink Hospital”, but the designs depict moods more than places or events. The same goes for wood carvings, which can refer to a landscape and include the representational details suggested by titles such as “Icequake”. The artist’s prints are often strongly vertical, they are kinetic, with swirling and sunken shapes shaded by delicate patterns in calmer colours. Guadagnoli evokes the real world as he sculpts the landscapes that are only in his mind.
Aimee Guadagnoli: Ritual and Relief Until April 29th at Washington Engravers Gallery1641 Wisconsin Ave NW.