Arts Desk

Reviewed: Peter Karp at Studio Gallery

The works in Peter Karp’s retrospective at the Studio Gallery tend to fall into three categories—photographs, flat mixed-media assemblages, and three-dimensional box assemblages—and they're sometimes successful.

Some of the flat assemblages by Karp, a former World Bank executive who took up art as a second career, combine needlessly jarring elements, but a series of images of a decaying painting outside an old East German building, previously seen at Studio, continue to impress, particularly the one in which black-and-white and color versions are woven together, strip by strip.

The box assemblages are also a mixed bag, with the best offering clever layering (such as a delicate twig loosely sandwiched between glass and paper, pictured at right) or geometric resonance (an homage to suprematism in black and white, with a standout splash of red paint on one side of a small cube).

Karp's straight photographs are the most consistently interesting, depicting a praying mantis trapped under a fine wire screen, a mysterious sliver of light slicing through a ceiling (or is it a floor?), an enigmatic grouping of what look like chopsticks, an aerial view of a Northern Virginia cul-de-sac development covered by snow, a pair of curved branches emerging side by side from the water, and a peeling wall in D.C. depicted in eerily unrelenting light—an image that pays homage to the flat depictions of Minor White and Aaron Siskind.

Through Feb. 23 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW. (202) 232-8734. On view 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.

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