Arts Desk

Reviewed: Christina King, Daniela Mastrangelo and Leah Appel at Hillyer Art Space

Just in time for FotoWeek, Hillyer Art Space features not one but three simultaneous photography shows.

Christina King, having become “afraid” of photographing people a few years ago, worked through her issues by experimenting with cutting individuals out of her prints with an Xacto knife, then using decorative paper to fill the voids (bottom). While the urge to excise has been a powerful statement in recent works shown in D.C. by Hank Willis Thomas (on historical images of slavery) and Andrea Chung (on Jamaica’s colonial legacy), King’s approach seems too haphazard. In some images, the spaces become plausible negative spaces; in others, we are simply left to wonder why, for instance, one chess player has been removed and his opponent has been kept in.

Daniela Mastrangelo’s offerings (right) are more intriguing. Based in Livorno, Italy, Mastrangelo photographs a mix of young and old faces of unnamed origin. But more compelling than her subject matter is her method. She makes photographic prints in several hues that are covered in wax – a technique that offers a wide range of surface appearances, ranging from reflective to dull to shimmering.

The standout, however, is D.C.-based photographer Leah Appel. Her approach is the most traditional – color prints of landscapes and architecture – but her best images offer originality. In one, a hang glider hovering over lightly traced dunes looks as small and delicate as a fly; in another, Appel photographs a portion of a side of a weathered barn painted in a thoroughly unexpected shade of green; and in a third, she spots a mildly absurdist row of trash cans perched on a steep, San Francisco hill.

Two of Appel's images are particularly notable. One (top) documents a rack of ping-pong paddles in an arrangement whose airy, tropical color scheme belies the fact that the photograph was taken in Capon, W.Va.; the other is an abstraction of passersby reflected in Chicago’s highly polished “Cloud Gate” sculpture, which in Appel's rendering becomes a strikingly phantasmagoric vision.

Through Dec. 1 at Hillyer Art Space, 9 Hillyer Ct. NW, Washington, D.C. Mon 12-5, Tues-Fri 12-6, Sat 12-5.

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  • MaryJane

    I had the opportunity to see Daniela's work when I was in Italy 2 years and was so happy when I found out that the Hillyer would exhibit some of her work. Unfortunately, I don't agree with the choices made by the curator. Although Daniela has a special affinity for India (the "unnamed origin") and its people, I don't think the American people are as impressed or as intrigued by these expressive faces. I encourage you to take a look at her other work on her web site, There, you will find many examples of both truly unique original and wax photographs.

  • MaryJane

    Furthermore, her are NOT covered in wax - they are PRINTED on wax - which is completely different and much more impressive.

  • MaryJane

    Furthermore, her photographs are NOT covered in wax - they are PRINTED on wax - which is completely different and much more impressive.