Can artworks that are new, but also rather similar to an artist’s old works, be worthwhile? They can if they’re aerial images by D.C.-based photographer Maxwell MacKenzie. Nearly all of the 28 photographs in MacKenzie’s new Fraser Gallery show—images of rural forests and cultivated farmland, taken from his signature ultralight—were made in 2010, but virtually all echo the images in “Markings,” MacKenzie’s landmark 2004 exhibit and 2007 book. Yet if the imagery is familiar, it also retains its capacity to astound—graceful agricultural furrows with the texture of corduroy, fields of green and beige recall the paintings of Diebenkorn, whimsically curving forms look like ant trails, enigmatic unplowed areas suggest a blinking eye, and scatterings of hay bales resemble tiny pushpins. MacKenzie has made big strides in the past decade, first abandoning ground-based images of barns for aerial photographs of the same, then shifting to the more abstract aerial imagery of “Markings.” As wonderful as MacKenzie’s new works are, I’m ready for another quantum leap.
THE EXHIBITION IS ON VIEW 11:30 A.M. TO 6 P.M. TUESDAY TO SATURDAY TO NOV. 6 AT FRASER GALLERY, 7700 WISCONSIN AVE., BETHESDA. FREE. (301) 718-9651.