Arts Desk

Reviewed: Sarah Alexander at Foundry Gallery

Sarah Alexander’s photography makes it clear that she likes pieces better than wholes. And while the selection of her work at the Foundry Gallery is uneven and at times needlessly busy, some of the fragments she finds are pleasing indeed.

In Alexander’s hands, a portion of an intricate, textured rotunda becomes Escheresque; several levels of an oval-shaped staircase collapse into an unexpectedly flat plane; and a segment of weathered architectural detailing paradoxically coexists with a perfectly undisturbed field of red. A wall covered with images of old sewing machines (bottom) offers a surprising blend: a repetitive, Muybridgean matrix rendered in textures that suggest a cave painting.

Meanwhile, “Reflections” (top) turns a clichéd subject—an abstracted view of a glass façade—into a genre-bending work. By using inkjet printing techniques on canvas, the image meets the photorealistic paintings of buildings by fellow D.C. artist Joey Manlapaz precisely halfway, and from the opposite direction. But sometimes Alexander’s quest to locate the right portions could have gone even deeper. In one work, she photographs a portion of the undercarriage of a train; the train itself, a boring black, could have been excised in favor of one silvery piece that is polished, somewhat inexplicably, to the point that it gives off a positively dreamy reflection of the nearby track bed.

Through March 31 at the Foundry Gallery, 1314 18th St NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 463-0203. Wed-Sun 12-6.


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