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 Other historical references are unambiguous: Several paintings reproduce posters from early ’80s D.C. and Boston hard-core punk shows.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.