Tag Archives: The Washington Post

ETO OTITIGBE | “Materiel Remains” reviewed in The Washington Post

25 Jun

Eto Otitigbe

Review by Mark Jenkins

June 24, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Dr. Nova,” by Eto Otitigbe, in the exhibit “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints.” (Eto Otitigbe)

At first glance, the Eto Otitigbe paintings at Morton Fine Art don’t seem to have much connection with his best known ventures, which are public sculptures. But the swirling, inky facades of the artist’s “Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints” are inscribed with intricate designs that have an architectural quality. These half-hidden forms do suggest blueprints, albeit for purely theoretical structures.

Otitigbe, who teaches sculpture at Brooklyn College, generally paints on valchromat, a variety of colored plywood introduced about 25 years ago. The artist buries the substance’s bright hues under mostly black paint, which contrasts the lines engraved by a computer-controlled process. The cleanly cut patterns are as precise as the applied pigment is loose and smeary.

The artist is a member of the design team for the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers at the University of Virginia, and his paintings do allude indirectly to hidden African American history. But they can also be seen as embodying the hidden structures that underlie a seemingly disordered universe. Trained as an engineer at MIT and Stanford, Otitigbe imposes structure even as he indulges painterly intuition.

Eto Otitigbe: Materiel Remains: Consider This a Blueprint, a Series of Blueprints Through June 28 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

LIZETTE CHIRRIME reviewed in The Washington Post

6 May

Lizette Chirrime

Review by Mark Jenkins

Today at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Somewhere on Earth” by Lizette Chirrime. (Lizette Chirrime and Morton Fine Art)

Mozambican artist Lizette Chirrime makes art by stitching together scraps of secondhand fabric and other found materials. Although this sort of patchwork is usually considered humble, Chirrime’s themes are heroic and even cosmic. Among the pieces in her Morton Fine Art show, “Rituals for Souls Search,” is “Somewhere on Earth,” in which textile strips coalesce into a sort of globe. Most of the narrow ribbons flow from one side of the tapestry to the other, but the ones that approach the circle bend into an orbit as if warped by a black hole’s pull.

More typical of Chirrime’s compositions are those that center on human figures, in two cases identified as single mothers. One of the solitary matriarchs is positioned above a photo of a woman’s face and outlined in multiple series of roughly parallel red stitches. Equally expressive is “The Boy Who Stopped the Snake,” in which the child who clutches a brown serpent is a silhouette of hot-colored tatters against a backdrop of blues and greens.

The poses in these tableaux are meant to be celebratory, and reflect the artist’s overcoming her traumatic childhood. “I literally ‘restitched’ myself together,” explains her statement. The use of castoff materials is an ecological statement and the imagery is often spiritual, but the essence of Chirrime’s art is autobiographical.

Lizette Chirrime: Rituals for Souls Search Through May 17 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available Artwork by LIZETTE CHIRRIME

ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY’s solo “Descartes Died in the Snow” reviewed in The Washington Post

18 Mar

Art

Review

In the galleries: Uncovering life’s fragility amid ecological losses

Artist’s works are an enduring reminder of environmental crises within a global consciousness

By Mark Jenkins

Contributing reporter

March 18, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Artist Rosemary Feit Covey’s “Stained Grass” incorporates her vision of nature at risk. (Rosemary Feit Covey and Morton Fine Art)
Covey’s “Blossoms Fall II.” (Rosemary Feit Covey and Morton Fine Art)

Somewhere in most of Rosemary Feit Covey’s recent artworks are woodcut prints, detailed renderings of birds, bones and butterfly wings. But the zoological imagery can be deeply submerged in compositions so layered that they verge on being relief sculptures. The South Africa-born local artist’s “Descartes Died in the Snow” show, named for one of her mixed-media pictures on display at Morton Fine Art, both depicts and simulates nature’s fecundity.

The largest piece, and one of the oldest, 2017′s “Black Ice” is a monumental painting of a glacial scene stretched across eight vertical canvases in the manner of a traditional Japanese screen. It is simpler and more direct than many of these artworks, yet shares several qualities. It’s nearly monochromatic, portrays ecological threats and mixes customary artistic materials with shredded plastic, a substance that exemplifies mankind’s intrusions on the natural world.

Inspired in part by the organic networks generated by fungi, Covey fills her pictures with repeated organic forms, whether the animal skeletons of “Broken Earth” or the firefly-like pinpoints of “Panspermia III.” The latter is among the show’s most colorful works, but its many hues are buried in a complex array that appears black and white from a distance. The colors are subordinate to the whole, as are the recycled plastic mixed with pigment, or the tiny black magnets that hold in place the myriad collage pieces. Covey’s vision is of nature at risk, yet nonetheless growing abundantly and every which way.

Rosemary Feit Covey: Descartes Died in the Snow Through March 31 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available artwork by ROSEMARY FEIT COVEY

CHOICHUN LEUNG’s solo “The Watchful Eyes” reviewed in The Washington Post

6 Feb

Arts & Entertainment

Review

In the galleries: Artist’s imagery examines community-building in the aftermath of trauma

Choichun Leung’s decade-long Young Girl Project focuses on a show of solidarity

By Mark Jenkins

Contributing reporter

February 4, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Choichun Leung, The Watchful Eyes, 2021, 64″x55″, acrylic, pen and graphite on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Morton Fine Art.

In Choichun Leung’s “The Watchful Eyes,” a show of paintings and drawings at Morton Fine Art, the drawings seem to dominate. That’s not because the paintings, which are bigger and more colorful, are less compelling on their own terms. But the black-and-white renderings of girls, which speak to the artist’s concern with childhood sexual abuse, set the tone for all the work. Images from the drawings infiltrate the paintings, where they become more abstract yet remain charged and haunting.

Leung is a Chinese-British artist who grew up in Wales and is now based in Brooklyn. She performed traditional Chinese music and earned a degree in metalsmithing before teaching herself to paint. Her original style was abstract and aqueous, suggesting the sea that laps three sides of her childhood homeland. There are glimmers of that style in Leung’s more recent work, but the pictures are dominated by the figures of girls, often banded together as multitudes. In the show’s title work, dozens of heads float amid a profusion of disembodied hands and dotted lines that represent energy flowing within and among bodies.

This show marks the 10th anniversary of the Young Girl Project, an anti-abuse organization Leung founded in 2012. A drawing the artist made that year, “Bound Girl,” shows a child wrapped almost entirely in rope. That captive figure reappears in later works, but always accompanied — in an imagined show of solidarity — by other, unfettered children. In the strikingly arrayed “Girl Gang,” from 2020, a tight cluster of dark-haired heads is surrounded by smaller heads in the distance. (Perhaps because they’re in some sense autobiographical, the girls in these pictures always appear Asian, but a wider array of ethnicities, as well as a boy, appear in Leung’s drawings on the Young Girl Project’s website.)

Brightly hued and more complexly composed, the paintings place the girls in appealingly surreal landscapes. Leung once worked as an assistant to pop artist Peter Max, and her pictures have some of his comic-book-like directness and verve. In such pictures as “Four Girls in the Dreamworld,” rendered in ink and gouache, the hard-edge figures move among soft shapes and watery colors. Leung’s glowing reveries are animated by trauma, but they can look like places of refuge.

Choichun Leung: The Watchful Eyes Through Feb. 17 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, #302. Open by appointment.

Available Artwork by CHOICHUN LEUNG

OSI AUDU’s solo exhibition “A Sense of Self” reviewed in The Washington Post

11 Jan
Osi Audu’s “Self-Portrait with a Yoruba Hairstyle” in the exhibit “A Sense of Self.” (Osi Audu/Morton Fine Art)

Osi Audu

By Mark Jenkins

January 7, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Especially when rendered with gleaming graphite, Osi Audu’s hard-edge geometric abstractions evoke high-tech machines. But “A Sense of Self,” the title of the Nigeria-born New Yorker’s show at Morton Fine Art, suggests he has something else in mind. Nearly all the pictures are designated as self-portraits, and often streamline the shapes of West African masks. Audu’s inspiration is the Yoruba idea of “outer and inner head,” according to the gallery’s statement.

The show is divided primarily between monochromatic drawings, executed in gray graphite and black pastel, and brightly colorful paintings, mostly in two contrasting acrylic pigments. Audu distills the forms of masks, headdresses and hairstyles to planes, angles and curves, and positions them on white backdrops that emphasize the images’ seeming three-dimensionality. It would make sense for the artist to translate such pictures into sculpture, and in fact this show is set to include two painted-steel pieces that seem to be closely related to the paintings. (The sculptures didn’t arrive in time to be seen for this review.)

The colors and shapes are usually presented as stark dualities, but not always. “Self-Portrait After Dogon Bird Mask” features four hues rather than two, and the graphite areas in the black-and-gray drawings are made of free, densely overlapping strokes. While inner and outer are elsewhere tidily juxtaposed, the graphite’s intricate textures are intriguingly in-between.

Osi Audu: A Sense of Self Through Jan. 15 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available artwork by OSI AUDU

AMBER ROBLES-GORDON’s “Successions : Traversing U.S. Colonialism” reviewed in The Washington Post

3 Dec

Museums

Review

In the galleries: Artist’s works criss-cross the paths of U.S. colonialism

An installation view of Amber Robles-Gordon’s “Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism.” (Greg Staley/Katzen Arts Center, American University)

By Mark Jenkins

12/3/21 at 6:00 a.m. EST

Residents of D.C. are used to seeing the place as an almost-state, much like Maryland or Wyoming, yet not quite. Amber Robles-Gordon, a longtime Washingtonian who was born in Puerto Rico, has a different take. Her American University Museum show, “Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism,” groups D.C. with her birthplace and four other inhabited territories: Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. She represents these disenfranchised territories on two-sided quilted banners, one face for “political” and the other for “spiritual.”

Robles-Gordon has often shown fabric pieces in which a variety of found materials dangle in free-form compositions. The “Successions” banners are more tightly arranged, although still in improvisational patchwork. The political face of the D.C. quilt depicts the city’s diamond shape, minus the chunk that was retroceded to Virginia, and two sets of stars, echoing both the U.S. and D.C. flags. The flip side features motifs that evoke the Indigenous people who were displaced when the area became the capital of a country whose possessions would stretch from the Caribbean to the Pacific. Similar contrasts between official and ancestral are expressed on the alternate sides of the other quilts.

The show also features “Place of Breath and Birth,” collages on canvas that incorporate photos, including one of Robles-Gordon. These pieces are horizontal, and thus feel more like landscapes, albeit ones that are kaleidoscopic rather than realistic. They’re titled in Spanish and English, reflecting the artist’s Afro-Latina heritage. The artfully arranged scraps are analogous to what her statement calls “the missing slivers of my cultural identity,” and remind the viewer that Robles-Gordon’s exploration of U.S. territories began as a quest to learn more about herself.

Anil Revri’s “Geometric Abstraction 9.” (Neil Greentree/Katzen Arts Center, American University)

Like Robles-Gordon, Anil Revri begins with the decorative arts, only to transcend them. The Indian-born D.C. artist’s “Into the Light,” also at the university’s museum, consists of hard-edge symmetrical abstractions that invoke multiple Eastern spiritual traditions. His lustrous mixed-media pictures are executed mostly in black, white and metallic tones, sometimes with red touches. They’re partly inspired by yantras, Hindu sacred patterns whose earlier known examples are more than 20,000 years old. Revri also takes cues from Western sources.

Most of the works in this show are in the “Geometric Abstraction” series and were made in 2019-2020. Their sturdy frameworks suggest architecture, but they’re executed on handmade paper whose ragged edges and rough textures hint at fabric; it’s as if the pictures are both temples and the prayer rugs within them. A few earlier pieces, notably 2011’s “Ram Darwaza II,” include softer, cloudlike forms. But all the artist’s renderings can be read as symbolic maps of an orderly universe.

Amber Robles-Gordon: Successions: Traversing U.S. Colonialism and Anil Revri: Into the Light Through Dec. 12 at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Available Artwork by AMBER ROBLES-GORDON

KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN’s solo exhibition “Water Ribbon” reviewed in The Washington Post

2 Oct

Museums Review

In the galleries: Probing our relationships with living systems

By Mark Jenkins October 1, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

“Water Ribbon” by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann is a vertical composition that’s 7½ feet high. (Morton Fine Art)
“Arch 3″ by Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann has a strong central focus that departs from the artist’s usual style. (Morton Fine Art)

…Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann is the most conventional of the five participants, at least in her choice of media. The Washington artist paints, usually on paper and often on a mammoth scale, with acrylic pigment and sumi ink. The ink links Mann’s style to historical Chinese painting, as does her nature imagery. Yet the crowded, layered pictures are mostly abstract. Mann begins by pouring pigment to make random patterns, which are then amended and extrapolated, partly by collage.

That synthesis — of flowing and improvisational with hard-edged and precise — yields tableaux that are dynamic and distinctive. The two Mann panoramas in “Empirical Evidence” — the larger almost 12 feet wide — are among the show’s highlights.

Anyone smitten with these sweeping pictures can easily find more, if not quite so expansive, examples at Morton Fine Art. The biggest offering is the title piece, “Water Ribbon,” a rare vertical composition that’s 7½ feet high. Many of the other pictures are, unusually for Mann, square or nearly so. Although they still suggest landscapes, such pictures as “Arch 3” have a stronger central focus than is typical of the artist’s style. Rather than meander every which way, Mann’s latest water ribbons coalesce into dazzling wholes.

Empirical Evidence Through Nov. 13 at Hamiltonian Artists, 1353 U St. NW.

Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann: Water Ribbon Through Oct. 6 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302.

Available Artwork by KATHERINE TZU-LAN MANN

LIZ TRAN reviewed in The Washington Post

26 May

“Mirror Three” by Liz Tran combines drips, spatters and ink on wooden panels with equal measures of abandon and precision. (Morton Fine Art)

Liz Tran

by Mark Jenkins,

May 21, 2021 at 7:00 a.m. EDT

Seattle artist Liz Tran drips and spatters candy-colored paint and ink on wooden panels with equal measures of abandon and precision. The abstract pictures in her Morton Fine Art show, “The Webs Installed by Our Dreams,” offer vigorous spontaneity and robust compositions, the latter often inspired by Rorschach test inkblots administered to her when she was a child. Yet minor tweaks to Tran’s formula yield very different effects.

Most of the paintings are rectangular and rendered on white backdrops. Even the loosest of them seem focused on a middle point, but that centeredness is accentuated in the two pictures on circular panels. Adding a colored background, especially the black of “Ornament 7,” also makes Tran’s free gestures more cohesive. So does moving the pictorial activity to the top of the frame in “Bluescape.”

One other painting offers a fruitful variation. “Big Bang 3” is hardly out of place in this selection, but its oscillating, concentric forms suggest something quite different from a Rorschach test inkblot: a Hindu or Buddhist mandala. Rather than one person’s untidy reveries, the picture evokes an orderly cosmos.

Liz Tran: The Webs Installed by Our Dreams Through May 27 at Morton Fine Art, 52 O St. NW, No. 302. Open by appointment.

Available Artwork by LIZ TRAN

LISA MYERS BULMASH “The Home Inside My Head” reviewed in The Washington Post

27 Dec

Congratulations to LISA MYERS BULMASH for the rich review of her solo exhibition “The Home Inside My Head” in today’s print edition of The Washington Post by Mark Jenkins. (Arts & Style Section 12/27/20)

Lisa Myers Bulmash

Also spurred by pandemic-era exile from everyday life, Lisa Myers Bulmash conceived a Morton Fine Art show “The Home Inside My Head”. The Seattle artist combines found and personal objects into 3-D collages that conjure both African American history and her family’s own story. The pieces juggle the antiquarian and the immediate to express what Bulmash’s statement calls “a Black and female viewpoint”.

One series, “Rare & Exquisite,” places oversize models of endangered butterflies atop maps of regions of the United States collaged from Colonial-era (and thus not entirely reliable) charts. The effect is to correlate the threatened species — affixed with heavy railroad spikes that evoke hard labor –with Black people whose place in this country has always been at risk.

Examples of another antique tool, the wooden washboard, serve as frames in the “Bought and Paid For” series. The washboards hold books and ovals made of twine, which enclose overlapping transparencies of family photos. The pictures depict various old structures, including houses, and children at play. Again, Bulmash contrasts rough materials with fragile beings.

It seems apt that another piece is based on a torn piece of old sheet music repaired by kintsugi, the Japanese technique of using gold to both accentuate and exalt the cracks in a broken vessel. Bulmash’s assemblages can be seen as a bid to mend history.

Click HERE to read the review in full.

On view by appointment at Morton Fine Art through January 6th, 2021. Located at 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001.

(202) 628-2787 (text or call)

info@mortonfineart.com

http://www.mortonfineart.com

Available Artwork by LISA MYERS BULMASH

NATALIE CHEUNG’s “Facsimile” and ANDREI PETROV’s “B.C./A.D” reviewed in the Washington Post

10 Apr

the washington post logo

 

 

“Cappadocian Field Trip” and other abstract oil paintings by Andrei Petrov evoke erosion. (Andrei Petrov/Courtesy of Morton Fine Art)

“Cappadocian Field Trip” and other abstract oil paintings by Andrei Petrov evoke erosion. (Andrei Petrov/Courtesy of Morton Fine Art)

 

April 10, 2015

NATALIE CHEUNG’s “Facsimile” and ANDREI PETROV’s “B.C./A.D.” reviewed in the Washington Post

Natalie Cheung & Andrei Petrov

Photograms and chemigrams are both forms of camera-less photography yet have a very different feel. Natalie Cheung illustrates the contrast with “Facsimile,” at Morton Fine Art. The smaller photograms, created by placing objects on photo paper and then exposing it, are hard-edged, black-and-white and essentially tidy. The chemigrams, painted with chemicals on photo paper, are larger and looser. The billowing black and red-brown forms suggest ink painting but also, at their most ominous, blood-
spatter patterns. One piece resembles a razor blade, dripping with black plasma. Even if it may not be what the Washington artist intended, these pictures are beguilingly dark, fluid and strange.

The abstract oils of Andrei Petrov’s “B.C./A.D.,” also at Morton, evoke glaciation, erosion and water seeping through rock. Such associations fit the Washington-born New York artist’s method: He both builds and subtracts from his paintings, scraping and sanding to achieve a hard-worked surface and compositions that feature seeming cracks and crevices. The colors include some bright blues but are mostly shades that suggest minerals. Although “Swiss Bliss” somewhat resembles a landscape, most of the works lack that picture’s sense of distance. Whatever it is that Petrov depicts, he puts the viewer very close to its center.

Facsimile: Alternative Process Photographs by Natalie Cheung and B.C./A.D.: Nature-Based Abstract Oil Paintings by Andrei Petrov On view through April 16 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW. 202-628-2787. http://www.mortonfineart.com