“With the Grain,” the title of J.T. Kirkland’s show at MPA@ChainBridge gallery, refers to his established technique. The Sterling artist is known for staining central areas of plywood sheets with the washes of the same color he uses to paint a hard-edge geometric border that surrounds the area of tinted grain. There are several examples of this format here, but also some effective variations.
A few recent works split the composition across two irregularly shaped planks. These diptychs, severed yet unified, are the same color on both sides and resemble interlocking puzzle pieces. More of a departure are pictures that employ diamonds and rectangles in multiple hues. These also emphasize the grain, but don’t stain it. The unpainted wood is central, and the painted figures its frame. These paintings are one-piece rectangles, some dismembered visually by offkilter shapes. The most orderly of them, the double-diamond “Subspace” 251 and 262, suggest Frank Stella’s 1960s style. But even these give equal play to plywood and paint, thus foregrounding the backdrop.
J.T. Kirkland: With the Grain On view through May 31 at MPA@ChainBridge, 1446 Chain Bridge Rd., McLean. 703-790-1953. mpaart.org.