- The Washington Times - Friday, June 13, 2003

Visit the “Exhibit E: European Art at Dupont Circle” shows in pelting rain, as I did, and you’ll emerge with renewed appreciation for the close clustering of the quarter’s galleries.

You also will discover a lively, diverse bunch of talents from European Union member countries that might not have been seen otherwise.

Though less known here than in Europe, the exhibit’s 28 artists count among owners of their work New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Louvre in Paris, Dublin’s Irish Museum of Modern Art, Vienna’s Albertina and Greenland’s National Museum.

August Sander at the Kathleen Ewing Gallery at 1609 Connecticut Ave. NW is the most famous of the “Exhibit E” group and the most significant German photographer of the first half of the 20th century. He shot his famous “Citizen of the 20th Century” portrait series from 1910 to 1934 to document the social and cultural lives of Germans of the era.

The gallery presents a cross section of key images from the ambitious project, such as the “Pastry Cook” (rotund, of course), “Wife of the Painter, Peter Aveleen” (Sander caught her sleazy sexiness), and the expressive “Raoul Haussman as a Dancer,” among others.

Around the corner at the Elizabeth Brown Gallery on R Street NW, viewers will find the hilarious paintings of Greek artist Konstantin Kakanias. He spoofs art-world pretensions through his alter ego, fashion grande dame Mrs. Tependris. From the opposite tip of Europe, Greenland, Inuit Miki Jacobsen, showing at Burdick, sculpts gripping face masks, bird talons and “tupalaks.” He places pointed heads of aluminum in a circle for the “tupalak,” a design Greenlanders believe wards off evil spirits.

Also enjoyable are the geometricized, deep-blue acrylics of Irishman Felim Egan at Robert Brown. Their surfaces seem to vibrate. Mr. Egan paints the water near Dublin, where he lives, and achieves an extraordinary surface luminosity by mixing powdered stone with wax.

By contrast, Austrian Maria Moser shows big, mostly hot red paintings on paper almost next door at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW. Though appearing impetuously gestural, the works always sit on a geometric grid. Miss Moser’s roughly brushed, impastoed dragon uncoiling in “Blue Strokes” is irresistible. In addition to frequent shows at Mateyka, the artist appeared in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s “Drawings 1974-1984” exhibit of 1984.

The Mondrian-like paintings of Dutch painter Jan van Duijnhoven at Gallery K are intriguing because they’re not as Mondrianesque as they first appear. Erika Dieterman-Koehler of the Netherlands Embassy, who worked with late Gallery K Director Komei Wachi on the gallery’s “Exhibit E” shows, says Mr. Wachi liked to spar intellectually and philosophically with his artists.

A subject he discussed with Mr. van Duijnhoven was the future of painting. “The artist asked, ‘Do you believe painting will survive, as so many artists are choosing other avenues?’” Ms. Dieterman-Koehler recounts. “Mr. Wachi answered, ‘Yes, it’s such a beautiful medium, and that’s why I selected your work for the exhibit. Painting has so many facets, though it’s not the hippest of mediums at the moment.’”

Mr. van Duijnhoven has a special take on painting. He carefully cuts pieces of canvas with different colors on each, then places the colored shapes on top of one another to balance the limited spectrum of red, blue and yellow. In this, and by mixing colors for what he considers their greatest purity, the artist says he believes he has progressed beyond the renowned Dutch master of abstraction.

Reinoud van Vught(the Netherlands) and Alberto Reguera (Spain) are at the same gallery, Gallery K, but working with different aesthetics. Mr. van Vught, who works on 7-foot-by-7-foot handmade papers, says he likes to apply inks and acrylics to heavy paper to see what happens. Or he mixes enough water into his inks and acrylics that the handmade paper becomes bubbly and looks watery.

Marc Moyens, the Gallery K co-owner who also died recently, gave Mr. Reguera his first U.S. solo exhibition, in 1998. This is the Segovian’s third exhibit of textured, luminous canvases here.

There’s much more, of course. British artist Paul Edwards shows at Aaron, Frenchman Franck Moeglen at Troyer, a group of Tuscan artists at Gallery 10, Swedish photographer Maria Fribergand Luxembourg photographer Amme-Lorraine Bousch at Conner Contemporary Art, Danish paper artist Anne Vilsboll at Burdick, Finnish printmaker Melek Mazici at Elizabeth Roberts and Belgian David Alexander Janssen at Studio Gallery.

Though the exhibit “Connecting Worlds: Contemporary Sculpture From the European Union” atop the Kennedy Center two summers ago was dramatic and spectacular, this year’s “Exhibit E” gives a more intimate, but also comprehensive, view of European visual art trends. The exhibit reflects Europe’s pluralistic art picture but adds nice individualistic twists as well.

INFORMATION: www.artgalleriesdc.com

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