The Washington Post Sunday

A fleeting moment can leave an indelible impression

- BY MARK JENKINS Reston. Robert Schultz: Memorial Leaves Through Sept. 19 at the Athenaeum, 201 Prince St., Alexandria. style@washpost.com

The image that inspired the title of Marie-B Cilia De Amicis’s Washington Printmaker­s Gallery show, “Moments Exceptionn­els,” arranged itself neatly for her digital camera. An Ethiopian woman stands in front of a young boy, her left arm extended in perfectly perpendicu­lar contrast to her uptight frame. But the layout of lines and shapes is secondary to the voluptuous colors: The woman’s headscarf, the child’s shirt and the high stucco wall behind them are all in close shades of rose and salmon, set off by the deep green of a window frame. It’s a visual rhapsody in pink, composed in an instant.

The well-traveled De Amicis is a longtime Washington­ian with a complicate­d Mediterran­eanregion pedigree. Her pictures in this exhibition carry the viewer to Nepal, Israel and beyond. The Tunisia-born artist is drawn to hot countries with luminous palettes. Vivid color is key to nearly all the photos, and sometimes it’s underscore­d by repeated forms: A young Cambodian woman works intently to make a bright red confection whose circular contour is echoed by multiple other rounds within the frame.

The photograph­er uses computer effects to add texture to her images, and in one case to drain some of the natural hues: A young Turkmen bride dressed in traditiona­l attire steps out from under a canopy that’s held up by a man in a Western-style suit. The wedding garb is accented in red, gold and fuchsia, but the symbolic awning and its holder have been rendered black-andwhite, suggesting a monochroma­tic future for the woman. In a De Amicis picture, color is sheer joy, and its lack can be ominous.

Marie-B Cilia De Amicis: Moments Exceptionn­els Through Sept. 26 at Washington Printmaker­s Gallery, 1641 Wisconsin Ave NW.

Tertium Quid

“Third what” is the literal translatio­n of “Tertium Quid,” the Latin phrase that provides the title of the three-artist show at the Korean Cultural Center. The term is appropriat­ely openended, since the participan­ts devise pieces that are minimalist and mysterious­ly allusive. Hae Won Sohn uses gypsum cement to construct small abstract sculptures that resemble rock and bone. Yoory Jung makes paintings and prints that emulate the surfaces of traditiona­l Korean celadon pottery. Jaejoon Jang works with video and found objects to create the gentlest of transforma­tions. Both Sohn and Jang also manipulate simple sheets of paper, defining modest sculptural forms with cuts, folds and crinkles.

The artists, all U.S.-based and born in Korea between 1990 and 1992, whisper rather than shout. The only piece here with a hint of violence is Jang’s short video of a hand lighting a match, shown on a cellphone with a broken screen. (He has also contribute­d two assemblage­s that include cat skulls, but the craniums are fake.) Sohn builds impact with repetition, filling a section of floor with an archipelag­o of craggy tan islets. Some of Jung’s paintings are imposingly large, but their green-on-green patterns are muted and require close inspection to comprehend.

In its use of oblique strategies, Sohn, Jang and Jung’s work is akin to ambient music. The artists take ordinary things, focus on small details and prompt viewers to gaze beyond what’s on display. The “third what” can be found at the edge of perception, or only in the imaginatio­n.

Tertium Quid Through Sept. 27 at the Korean Cultural Center, 2370 Massachuse­tts Ave. NW.

Judith M. Pratt

The tightly interlocki­ng lines in Judith M. Pratt’s abstract drawing-paintings suggest tectonic faults and topographi­cal maps, which the local artist intends. But “(Un)disclosed,” her show at Tephra ICA at Signature, also refers to something else that underlies Virginia: racism.

The pictures are divided between two series. “Piedmont” features white lines on singlecolo­r backdrops, most often black. The works in “Station” are similar in design but larger, more complex and richer in hue, with gray and black marks underscore­d by shadowing in red, yellow and blue. The first group refers to the legacy of slavery and was inspired by the Charlottes­ville native’s discovery that the area where she was raised once had the largest concentrat­ion of enslaved people in the United States. The second series, whose title refers to Christiani­ty’s Stations of the Cross, memorializ­es Black victims of racist violence. Works in both series are on paper made of domestic cotton, a reminder of that crop’s role in the oppression of Black people.

The intricate patterns in Pratt’s compositio­ns are immersive and hypnotic; the multicolor ones appear to oscillate. Rendered more regularly, they could appear mechanical, but every line is clearly hand-drawn. That gives the pictures emotional intensity to match their visual depth.

Judith M. Pratt: “(Un)disclosed” Through Sept. 21 at Tephra ICA at Signature, 11850 Freedom Dr.,

Robert Schultz

Virginia artist and author Robert Schultz touches on themes similar to Pratt’s, but he writes history in a rather different medium: chlorophyl­l. His Athenaeum show, “Memorial Leaves,” uses plant and tree leaves to make new prints of historical photos related to the Civil War and one of its most famous witnesses, Walt Whitman. Some of Schultz’s plant-photo collages are made in collaborat­ion with a contempora­ry photograph­er, Binh Danh; as well as with such 19th-century Washington lensmen as Alexander Gardner; and his onetime boss, Matthew Brady (who often received credit for Gardner’s work).

The pictures document history, depicting Black Union soldiers and a family in Richmond whose members were classified as “contraband,” meaning they had escaped from slavery. Schultz adds another sort of meaning by incorporat­ing talismans of historical locations. He prints with leaves from trees that probably witnessed the Battle of Fredericks­burg, and from a hosta plant in the back garden of the New Jersey house where Whitman lived his final years. (The poet’s family moved him from D.C. to Camden after he suffered a stroke in 1873.)

Whitman is a crucial influence on Schultz’s project, in part because of his prophecy that after the Civil War, its dead would inhabit “every breath we draw.” Schultz offers his prints as an alternativ­e to the Confederat­e monuments that are finally being removed. It’s fitting that, rather than flaunt the solidity of marble and bronze, Schultz’s memorials appear as wispy and fragile as American unity.

 ?? MARIE-B CILIA DE AMICIS ?? TOP: “Gurus” by Marie-B Cilia De Amicis, taken in Nepal. Her photos on exhibit at the Washington Printmaker­s Gallery take viewers to far-flung lands. BELOW LEFT: “Harar,” taken in Harar, Ethiopia, is another example of how vivid color is key to her work. BELOW RIGHT: Virginia artist and author Robert Schultz uses plant and tree leaves to make new prints of historical photos related to the Civil War, as seen in “How the Dead Speak: Unidentifi­ed Union Soldier and Woman.”
MARIE-B CILIA DE AMICIS TOP: “Gurus” by Marie-B Cilia De Amicis, taken in Nepal. Her photos on exhibit at the Washington Printmaker­s Gallery take viewers to far-flung lands. BELOW LEFT: “Harar,” taken in Harar, Ethiopia, is another example of how vivid color is key to her work. BELOW RIGHT: Virginia artist and author Robert Schultz uses plant and tree leaves to make new prints of historical photos related to the Civil War, as seen in “How the Dead Speak: Unidentifi­ed Union Soldier and Woman.”
 ?? NORTHERN VIRGINIA FINE ARTS ASSOCIATIO­N/THE ATHENAEUM ??
NORTHERN VIRGINIA FINE ARTS ASSOCIATIO­N/THE ATHENAEUM
 ?? MARIE-B CILIA DE AMICIS ??
MARIE-B CILIA DE AMICIS

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States