by Louis Jacobson on February 3, 2016


At Adamson Gallery, a Blurring of Lines in ‘Elemental Perspectives’

#66 Atlantic Ocean, September 2013 by Renate Aller
#66 Atlantic Ocean, September 2013 by Renate Aller

The current exhibition at the Adamson Gallery is titled, “Elemental Perspectives: Land, Sea + Sky.” But it might as well be titled, “Which One’s a Photograph and Which One Isn’t?”

Such artists as Renate Aller, Robert Longo and Carolyn Marks Blackwood blur the line—sometimes literally—between photo and photorealism.

Those familiar with Adamson’s roster of artists will recognize the work of Aller, a photographer, and Longo, a printmaker. Aller contributes one of her signature, large-scale, sea-and-sky images, this time in a grainy chiaroscuro that’s almost monochromatic (top). Longo’s prints are also monochromatic, featuring realistic—if overly dramatic—slices of a forest-scape (bottom).

Carolyn Marks Blackwood

Blackwood, like Aller, uses rippled water as her inspiration, but unlike Aller, Blackwood portrays sea and sky separately. Three of her square works show similar patterns of surface waves, each with its own ratio of blue, black, and white hues. Her images of the sky use a bolder palette—in one case (middle) a fiery orange and black, and in the other, a kaleidoscopic collection of red, blue, indigo, pink, and green-yellow. (It is this last work that most closely suggests the Hudson River School of painters, which she cites as an influence; Blackwood is based near the Hudson in Rhinecliff, N.Y.)

Perhaps the most notable of the four artists in the show is Martin Usborne. Usborne creates diptychs that pair a slightly unnerving landscape image with a portrait of a run-down dog. If this sounds odd, there’s a method to it: Usborne is publicizing the plight of the Spanish hunting dog. Up to 100,000 dogs are killed for being too old or slow, he says; his artworks combine portraits of rescued dogs and the types of places their less-lucky peers have been discovered post-mortem. His visuals are less compelling than those of the other artists in the show, but the backstory more than makes up for it.


Through March 26 at the Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW, Washington, D.C.

Tue-Sat 10–5 at Adamson Gallery

Robert Longo


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