By Eric Hope
The Washington Project for the Arts’ annual Select exhibition and gala auction provides a great opportunity to view current trends in artistic output from some of the region’s most notable artists. Locally, few exhibitions cover the gamut of media— from drawing to digital media to sculptural objects. Fewer still are organized by noted curators investigating how local artists are impacting creative thinking within the larger art world. This year’s exhibition, running through March 21st at the Artisphere in Arlington, features the works of over 100 artists, including several from our coverage area.
Select 2014 is a visual assault on the senses and in many ways defies pigeon-holing or simple categorization. In walking around the room, a key concept comes to mind in many of the most intriguing works: juxtaposition. In some cases, this plays out in the conjoining of disparate building materials – mediums that on the surface might seem at odds, but when skillfully nudged together form a cohesive work with a heightened sense of tension. Other works stretch that concept more cerebrally, where the tactile qualities of the materials used create a statement or narrative that might seem discordant with their traditional inferred qualities. Finally we see artists mixing together modern and contemporary art motifs, creating works that go beyond a mere updating of historical “–isms” in a quest to push their contemporary practices.
What follows is a small sampling of the most intriguing works that cloyingly play with the notion of juxtaposition. And remember, these works are all up for auction at the end of the exhibition!
Hassan paints with a deft hand, but what really pulls the viewer in is the way the lace wafts over the canvas, creating an interplay between paint and shadow along the lower half of the work.
Tate’s recent experiments with video imagery encased in glass take a novel turn in this particular piece. Look closely and you’ll see that the embellished frame surrounding the video is actually cast in glass, toying with how we perceive artworks hanging on a wall.
Pintado, a recent transplant to the District, marries engraved images hosting a 19th century optimism towards wide open plains with distinctly minimalist constructs resembling unseen force fields. Two antipodal ways of viewing geography come together on one intriguing canvas.
Henry’s work is seemingly a complete distillation of all known materials into a single, common element. The mixture — the rendering of unidentifiable components into a cohesive form — is the art. Its a challenging work to engage, but thoroughly edifying at the same time.
Horowitz’s two pieces dominate the wall on which their placed — not surprising really, given that they document the larger-than-life personae of female impersonators. While the scale initially draws the viewer in, its the subtle details that provide the punch: ruby lips contrast with fine stubble creating a fluidity to notions of gender identity.
Evans’ piece skillfully integrates digital animation with video imagery in an everchanging landscape. While it begins benignly enough, the work takes on somber, almost menacing tones as concrete structures impossibly multiply. Step back from the artistry and its a social commentary that asks pointed questions without providing tangible answers.
From a distance, Corcoran’s piece appears to be so many serpents in somnolent repose. A step closer and snakes turn to coils of welded steel. Evolving appearances are deceiving, for what seems to contain tensile strength is actually fragile glass whose curving shapes form a language all of its own.
Select 2014 is on view at the Artisphere through March 21st, culminating in a gala and auction on Saturday, March 22nd. For more information or tickets to the gala, visit the WPA’s website here. For hours and directions, visit the Artisphere’s website here.