Arts Desk

Reviewed: Olivia Rodriguez at Curator’s Office

From a distance, the decay that permeates Olivia Rodriguez’s art at Curator’s Offfice isn’t always obvious. To get the full effect of the rot, you have to squint. Rodriguez creates small sculptures and tableaux dominated by mushrooms, lichens and branches, using a palette of dark browns, beiges, and rust reds. The closer you look, the clearer the drivers of decomposition become—flies with delicately crafted legs and wings, white worms with nearly translucent surfaces and the daintiest slugs you’ve ever seen. On first glance, Rodriguez’s works look realistic, but here and there, reminders that they are manufactured come through—patches of gray material left uncovered by faux bark and dirt, for instance, or a small hole revealing a bit of metallic insulation. Seventeen pieces fit in the gallery’s tiny space with surprising ease, smartly occupying both shelves and the walls themselves. Some works are repetitive, but several stand out. One, an homage to Claes Oldenburg, features a fake hamburger topped with ketchup, pickles and flies; another is a branch draped by a gracefully elongated stretch of goo that has ensnared several insects. But the most impressive works are the spindly mushrooms attached delicately to the wall in groups (below), defying gravity with an unexpected lightness—eloquent, paradoxical grace notes of deterioration and disintegration.

The exhibition is on view noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday to August 4 at Curator's Office, 1515 14th St. NW Suite 201. (202) 387-1008.


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