Please don’t touch (un­less you’re a ‘Sac­ri­lege’ artist)

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY MARK JENK­INS Kyle Bauer: Fair­way On view through Oct. 17 at Flash­point Gallery, 916 G St. NW. 202-315-1305. www.cul­tur­aldc.org / vis­ual-arts/flash­point-gallery. style@wash­post.com Jenk­ins is a free­lance writer.

In the book­let for “Stu­dio Sac­ri­lege,” a re­pro­duc­tion of Amy Hughes Braden’s “Placed on a Pedestal” shows that the piece in­cludes a ren­der­ing of a Madonna-and-child icon. But in the col­lage paint­ing on dis­play at the Dis­trict of Columbia Arts Cen­ter, the baby and most of the mother have been painted over. The lat­ter ver­sion might be called the de­fin­i­tive one, but com­ple­tion isn’t the point of this three-woman show. Per­haps the lo­cal artist will stroll in one day and make more changes to the work, or to another one.

Braden’s work is char­ac­ter­ized by hot col­ors, found ob­jects, scrawled slo­gans and taunts, and ar­eas of rep­re­sen­ta­tional paint­ing, of­ten of hu­man faces and fig­ures. It fits well with that of D.C.’s Rox­ana Al­ger Gef­fen, whose most tra­di­tional pic­ture shows a woman who ap­pears to be bathing but who might be stand­ing in a color field rather than wa­ter.

The im­age’s flat­ness com­ple­ments “My Grand­mother Might not Ap­prove,” a con­struc­tion whose fab­ric, pa­per and other in­gre­di­ents are lit­er­ally lay­ered.

The third artist, Bal­ti­more born Jackie Mi­lad, is of Egyp­tian Honduran her­itage. She writes that her works on pa­per “ex­am­ine the com­plex­i­ties of iden­tity mak­ing for peo­ple of mixed race and mixed eth­nic back­grounds.” Sin­u­ous black lines echo Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy, while curved shapes re­sem­ble nat­u­ral forms. Mi­lad also paints over her work, no­tably in “Many His­to­ries,” sug­gest­ing the process of re­vis­ing and rein­ter­pret­ing the past.

All three artists work boldly, as if un­sure not of their own in­stincts but of the very en­shrine­ment of art. “The work should never be im­mor­tal­ized,” Braden writes, a sen­ti­ment that some mu­seum-go­ers might deem sac­ri­le­gious. It seems that these pieces, with their ran­dom ges­tures and ragged ar­eas, are not un­fin­ished, but un­fin­ish­able.

Also at DCAC, Re­becca Grace Jones’s “Small Worlds” is a set of tiny paint­ings. They’re es­sen­tially land­scapes, of­ten fea­tur­ing spindly black trees, and pret­tier than the “Sac­ri­lege” works. Yet process is as equally im­por­tant to Jones, who made all 18 num­bered pic­tures on the same sheet of pa­per, and scraped off and painted over parts of them.

Ren­dered in acrylic and a va­ri­ety of draw­ing ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing char­coal and pen­cil, the scenes are both rus­tic and ur­ban. The nat­u­ral tones can turn me­tal­lic, and the view is some­times in­ter­rupted by ab­stract el­e­ments such as the loosely painted red box in “#1898.” More typ­i­cally, though, the de­tails are sub­tler and al­ways finely worked and richly lay­ered.

Stu­dio Sac­ri­lege: Amy Hughes Braden, Rox­ana Al­ger Gef­fen, Jackie Mi­lad and Re­becca Grace

Jones: Small Worlds On view through Oct. 11 and Oct. 25, re­spec­tively, at Dis­trict of Columbia Arts Cen­ter, 2438 18th St. NW. 202-462-7833. www.dcarts­cen­ter.org.

Wi­jati Soe­man­toro

Mount Galung­gung in West Java, In­done­sia, hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced a ma­jor erup­tion since 1982, but Wi­jati Soe­man­toro hasn’t for­got­ten its power. The Java na­tive once lived near the vol­cano, be­fore spend­ing two decades in Ubud, the art cen­ter of Bali, and then mov­ing to Vir­ginia. She pays homage to the moun­tain with “The Ring of Fire,” a cy­cle of lith­o­graphs at the Art League Gallery. Half are in black and white, and the oth­ers add col­ors of earth, magma and flame.

The lith­o­graphs are based on draw­ings and printed with lime­stone slabs, an ap­pro­pri­ate medium for the sub­ject. Tightly pat­terned ar­eas sug­gest newly cracked crust and un­loosed rocks, slid­ing as if they were puz­zle pieces jum­bled by a higher power. Other sec­tions rep­re­sent more fluid el­e­ments, whether lava, wa­ter, mud flows or su­per­heated va­por. Those ref­er­ences are ap­par­ent yet not ex­plicit. Soe­man­toro’s style also could be seen as rooted in the purely ab­stract In­done­sian tra­di­tion of batik fab­ric print­ing. Although they evoke de­struc­tion, these hand­some prints have a gen­tle touch.

Wi­jati Soe­man­toro: The Ring of

Fire On view through Oct. 5 at the Art League Gallery, Tor­pedo Fac­tory, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria. 703-683-1780. www.theartleague.org.

Robert Novel

Most of the paint­ings in Robert Novel’s “Trans­la­tion Not Re­quired” bal­ance three col­ors, only two of which are pro­duced by pig­ment. The hard- edged bars, wedges and slashes of the lo­cal artist’s show at P Street Gal­lerie are al­most en­tirely in black and two shades of white, the darker of which is just ex­posed can­vas. This strat­egy is most ev­i­dent in a se­ries of six com­po­si­tions on linen, which is tan­ner than the can­vas Novel uses. The lim­ited pal­ette makes the lone mul­ti­col­ored piece look al­most baroque, even though it uses the same stark geo­met­ric forms and a nar­row range of hues: red, or­ange and brown.

Novel has a back­ground in sculp­ture, which may ex­plain his at­trac­tion to sleek black shapes. Ar­ranged hor­i­zon­tally, the pain­ter’s stacked, pointed stripes sug­gest Vene­tian blinds. Flipped 90 de­grees, they look like black­metal stakes, sup­ports for some mod­ernist Stone­henge. Two of the pic­tures hint at the in­flu­ence of Mon­drian’s lines and planes, but Novel’s style is closer in spirit to that of David Smith, a sculp­tor who was said to paint with welded me­tal.

Robert Novel: Trans­la­tion Not

Re­quired On view through Oct. 24 at P Street Gal­lerie, 3235 P St. NW. 202-333-4868.

www.pstreet­gal­lerie.com.

Kyle Bauer

A fair­way is not only on a golf course; it also refers to a nav­i­ga­ble deep- wa­ter chan­nel. The lat­ter mean­ing is what Kyle Bauer had in mind when he con­ceived his Flash­point Gallery show — a se­ries of mixed­me­dia sculp­tures that out­line a course through the white­walled rec­tan­gu­lar space. Yet the Bal­ti­more artist doesn’t present a se­ries of dry- docked buoys. His vo­cab­u­lary comes less from wa­ter­ways than from fur­ni­ture and do­mes­tic ar­chi­tec­ture.

“South­ern Sun” re­sem­bles a flag stand, and “Wall Draw­ing 1 (Ital­ianate)” is a curv­ing, un­painted ply­wood ver­ti­cal that re­calls the or­na­men­ta­tion of 19th-cen­tury build­ings and their con­tents.

Another piece, which bal­ances a stoneware orb on wooden spin­dles, looks a bit like a minia­tur­ized wa­ter tower. Other pieces are more flam­boy­ant, with brighter col­ors and me­tal­lic stream­ers. “I break ob­jects down into what I un­der­stand to be their purest rep­re­sen­ta­tional forms,” the artist writes. This some­how re­sulted in “Mi­ami Vice,” in which over­size Christ­mas-tree tinsel dan­gles from fezshaped scar­let porce­lain. Pu­rity is not this con­struc­tion’s no­table qual­ity, but such wild swings off the fair­way are kind of fun.

WI­JATI SOEMANTOR/ART LEAGUE GALLERY

Vir­ginia artistWi­jati Soe­man­toro’s “Ex­plo­sive Erup­tion ofMagma 1” is part of her ex­hi­bi­tion at the Art League Gallery. She draws in­spi­ra­tion from In­done­sia’s vol­canic Mount Galung­gung for her lith­o­graphs.

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