Matthew Mann

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE -

In­door and out­door are jux­ta­posed in Matthew Mann’s “Lux­ury Trou­ble,” but just as im­por­tant is the shift­ing bal­ance be­tween representation and ab­strac­tion. The paint­ings in the D.C. artist’s show at Stu­dio 1469 de­pict do­mes­tic in­te­ri­ors with var­i­ous de­grees of pre­ci­sion. Some­times, bits of in­te­rior de­sign re­sem­ble 20th-cen­tury art more than any ob­ject avail­able at an up­scale fur­nish­ings shop. In other pic­tures, chairs, clocks and a hat rack are ar­rayed in front of cross­hatched pat­terns that are just color and line, with­out any sug­ges­tion of a real-world lo­ca­tion.

Mann is some­thing of a sur­re­al­ist, so the clocks may al­lude to Sal­vador Dali. Other his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences are un­am­bigu­ous: Sev­eral paint­ings re­pro­duce posters from early ’80s D.C. and Bos­ton hard-core punk shows.

The artist demon­strates his skills as a re­al­ist in can­vasses such as “Bro­ken Win­dows,” in which the view of trees out­side is slightly blurred by glass but crisper where the panes are partly miss­ing. “The Aes­thete Es­caped” is nearly all re­al­is­tic, save for such touches as a flower ar­range­ment of blobby ex­pres­sion­ist brush­strokes. The pic­ture’s punch­line is a trap door in the floor that ap­pears to lead not to a base­ment, but to open sky. By pit­ting re­al­ity against whimsy, Mann al­ways leaves him­self a way out.

Matthew Mann: Lux­ury Trou­ble On view through May 28 at Stu­dio 1469, 1469 Har­vard St. NW, rear. 202-518-0804. stu­dio1469.com.

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