Arts Desk

“Recent Editions” at Adamson Gallery, Reviewed

SimmonsUpon entering “Recent Editions” at Adamson Gallery, I was told that there is no overarching theme to the exhibit. That seems to be accurate—it’s a collection of recent works by Adamson favorites—but individually, the works by Marc Babej, Chuck Close, Robert Longo, and Gary Simmons each have something to recommend them, even if the works by Close, Longo, and Simmons fit well within the confines of their previous work.

As is usually the case with Close, his 2013 works tiptoe between photography and painting, and between the mechanized and the handmade. In his large-scale pigment prints, Close uses pixilated blotches of watercolor—yellow, peach, gray, and green—to render a self portrait, as well as a more monochromatic palette in his portrayal of supermodel Kate Moss (bottom).

Two other venerable artists offer recent work: Longo’s testosterone-fueled prints of a tiger and fighter-pilot headgear, and a few of Simmons’ ghostly “erasure” works (top), in which he manually smudges items such as gang-gothic typefaces and urban liquor store signs, making them seem as if they are burning.

BabejThere's little question that the show’s freshest voice is its least-known artist, Babej, whose take on cosmetic surgery (middle) cleverly ponders the intersection of beauty and imperfection. Babej produces close-up portraits of women, their faces marked up with clusters of X’s as if they're awaiting plastic surgery—a nimble turn on 1940s-era Hollywood glamour shots, this time marred by imperfections that, to most observers, would seem inconsequential.

The exhibit is on view to March 29 at Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW.


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