Arts Desk

Reviewed: “Flora Photographica” at U.S. Botanic Garden

At the U.S. Botanic Garden, you can now choose to either see plants, or monumental depictions of plants. In an exhibit notable for its oddly pleasing, yin-yang pairing of artists, the garden offers photographs by Andrea Ottesen and Robert Llewellyn, each of whom make vastly blown-up images of plant matter set against contrasting backgrounds—an impenetrable black for Ottesen and a delicate white for Llewellyn. Ottesen’s choice of black for her backings gives her works an edge, particularly in an image like one of anona and osage orange, in which the light-green, circular forms exude a winning minimalism that suggests the Japanese flag, or an image of three jack-in-the-pulpits, which suggests a trio of pompadoured 1950s rockers. And it’s hard not to salute the plainly phallic suggestions within a larger-than-life depiction of Dutchman’s pipevine, all in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol. Maybe we should leave the metaphor there.

Through Oct. 16 at the U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C . 10-5 daily.

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