Of these, the most traditional are by the Spanish painter Salustiano, whose delicate, almost photorealistic renderings of heads and shoulders are contained within monochrome circles. The artist’s vivid reds are made from crushed cochineal, an authentic Renaissance technique that ties his work to European colonialism, since insects were originally brought to Spain from conquered territories in Central America.
Ironically, Walterio Iraheta updates paintings such as Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp” by populating them with McDonald’s Happy Meals figurines. These monochrome vignettes – some painted, some photographed – are based on toys available in Salvadoran stores that sell second-hand American goods. They are thus a powerful reminder of the influence on the artist’s homeland of its powerful neighbor to the north.
Mexican artist Fabian Ugalde takes direct inspiration from Old Master paintings, but gives them a computerized tweak. He digitally remixes well-known images such as Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” so that they are recognizable from a distance but come across as oddly dissected when viewed up close. The mouth, nose, and eyes of Vermeer’s subject, which just appear blurry from across the room, are actually multiple identical images grouped together in clumps.
Cecilia Paredes’ self-portraits are also delicately photographic, albeit more personal. The artist, who divides his time between Philadelphia and his native Peru, almost disappears into ornamental settings by covering most of his body with matching designs. Among the decorative motifs are flowers, butterflies and sea creatures, which give the images an ecological meaning. They concern the way in which an individual integrates into his environment while remaining separate from it.
The show incorporates the work of several artists that RoFA has highlighted in the past, including one that is definitely not a classic. Colombian street artist Erre draws her motives – and her energy – from punk rock, skateboarding and protest. His stenciled renditions of provocative young women include and embody mottos such as “Vivas Libres” (“live free”) and “Sin Miedo” (“without fear”).
In the heart of the viewer Until August 13 at the RoFA Art Gallery, 316 Main St., Kentlands, Gaithersburg.
In most of Matt Neuman’s prints and paintings, neither the elaborate geometric designs nor the contrasting warm and cool colors seem to come from nature. Yet highly stylized versions of natural forms sometimes make unexpected appearances in “Pattern Recognition,” the New York artist’s exhibition at the Long View Gallery. Most of the stunning abstract images are inside wooden frames, some X-shaped but others rounded and some with the symmetrical outlines of a streamlined butterfly.
Symmetry is crucial for Neuman, whose style is reminiscent of both 1960s op art and acid-rock graphics of the same decade, but is more precise and detailed than both. Often, the artist’s designs are doubled so that they mirror each other as paired sets of laser-etched circuitry. The frequent use of metallic inks and pigments also gives the oscillating images an industrial quality, even when the designs are clearly modeled on leafy plants or evoke the scales of snakeskin. Whatever their inspirations, Neuman’s images are visual machines that both capture and propel the viewer’s eye.
Matt Neuman: Pattern Recognition Until August 7 at the Long View Gallery, 1234 Ninth St. NW.
Arabic calligraphy is at the heart of Abdulrahman Naanseh’s drawings and paintings, but the works of his ‘Pressure/Movement/Effect’ are not texts meant to be read. The Syrian native’s recent work takes the Arabic versions of the three title words – chosen for their relevance to calligraphy, but also to politics – then twists, immerses and fragments them into abstract compositions. Naanseh is artist-in-residence at George Mason University, which exhibits his work at its Arlington location; the show will move to the main campus in a few weeks.
Most of the artwork in the show was done on paper with water-based inks, whether black or brightly colored. Some compositions group pen strokes into such tight groups that the resulting shapes are almost completely filled; others use ink so sparingly that the fine lines are mostly air.
Also on display are five vivid paintings in which calligraphic curls and curves serve as backdrops. Brushstrokes at the primary level are partially overpainted, with larger gestures underlined upside down above them. This intricate layering exemplifies the style of Naanseh, which both upholds and breaks tradition.
Abdulrahman Naanseh: Pressure/Movement/Effect Through August 6 at Mason Exhibitions Arlington, 3601 Fairfax Dr., Arlington, and August 22 through October 15 at the Gillespie Gallery of Art, George Mason University, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax.
There are many close-ups of materials and tools in Fleurette Estes’ photo essay “Behind the Loom: The Legacy, Heritage & Resilience of Navajo Weaving”. Yet the Lost Origins Gallery exhibit celebrates landscape as much as culture with its images and texts by Estes, a Texas-based artist who spent part of her childhood on the Navajo Nation reservation. Its territory includes Monument Valley, a red-rock expanse of steep plateaus and towering buttes in southeastern Utah.
The landscape is suitably prominent, alone or as a dramatic backdrop to the looms in the foreground in Estes’ crisp, colorful images. One photo, “Loom in the Wind,” cleverly uses a vertical weaving device as a frame for a panoramic view, seen partly through threaded strands of yarn. Shot on Fuji film, the images feature vivid blues and turquoises as well as the earth tones of dirt and scrubby grass.
Estes’ project was inspired by her mother-in-law and sister, both renowned Navajo weavers, and partially funded by the Focus on the Story Emerging Storyteller grant. Proceeds from this show will benefit Adopt-a-Native-Elder, one of whose programs provides yarn to older weavers.
Fleurette Estes: Behind the Loom: The Legacy, Legacy and Resilience of Navajo Weaving Through August 7 at the Lost Origins Gallery, 3110 Mt. Pleasant St. NW.