ELEMENTAL PERSPECTIVES: Land, Sea + Sky
A D A M S O N G A L L E R Y
RENATE ALLER / CAROLYN MARKS BLACKWOOD / ROBERT LONGO / MARTIN USBORNE
Currently on view through March 26, 2016
by Mark Jenkins for The Washington Post, March 11, 2016
There are no people in the 10 artworks that constitute “Elemental Perspectives: Land, Sea + Sky,” and most of the pieces seem to depict a world beyond human awareness or influence. Of the four artists in the Adamson Gallery show, however, one is very concerned with what men do, and it’s not a pretty story.
The most ravishing of the pictures are five photographs by Carolyn Marks Blackwood, who frames squares of sea or sky. Red-orange dominates a picture in which the sun seems to singe the image from the bottom; in a less abstract (if still rather psychedelic) photo, coral tones are reflected on partly dark clouds amid a blue sky. More quietly, the elegant “Blue Shift V” pits azure swells against the silvery ripples also seen in two other water photos.
Shades of platinum gray are the only colors in compositions by Renate Aller and Robert Longo. Aller, like Blackwood, finds profoundly open spaces not far from Manhattan; her seascape offers an illusion of endlessness in monochromatic ocean that fades to bleached sky. Longo, another New Yorker, shows primordial forest, its mists and shadows pierced by sunbeams. These two pictures, while realistically detailed, are not photographs but illustrations that juggle naturalism and theatricality.
Also dramatic are two diptychs by Martin Usborne, each with a rustic scene on one side and a galgo (a Spanish greyhound) posed on the other. The London photographer is publicizing the plight of these sleek hunting dogs, who are often killed or discarded once they’re considered too old to be useful.
The shadowy forest and the sun-blasted ravine in these pictures, whose mood the artist modeled on Velazquez’s paintings, provide visual rhymes for the dog portraits. They also depict the sorts of places where the animals are often abandoned. In Usborne’s photos, nature’s serenity is unsettlingly paired with human cruelty.
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