Where to see art gallery shows in the Washington region


Harumi Abe was born and raised in the Tokyo area, but she has lived most of her adult life in South Florida. Those two locales combine in the paintings in her Terzo Piano show, “A Stone, A Universe,” if not in equal proportion. The hot colors and extravagant flora of Abe’s recent work are predominantly subtropical in both appearance and energy.

The show’s title refers in part to an ancient Japanese treatise that instructs landscapers to begin their designs by placing stones, and there are a few pictures that suggest Japanese formal gardens. More typical, though, are dense, immersive views of trees and plants that seem to have grown without human intervention. These are rendered precisely yet loosely, with free brushstrokes and visible drips. Abe finds a sense of order in chaos, but just barely.

A few scenes are framed by windows or screens, and small animals occasionally appear. But the black cat who gazes outward from the bottom of a diptych just emphasizes the spectator’s essential solitude. Viewers enter these jungles alone, which makes them slightly eerie.

The paintings’ other uncanny aspect comes from Abe’s extravagant use of reds and pinks. There’s a lot of green, of course, but many scenes are dappled with rose-colored light and several are mostly scarlet, as if seen through tinted lenses. Abe’s pictures are finished, their fluid pigments and moist hues dried into permanence. Yet they feel subjective and thus mutable. The stones that define a garden can always be moved.

Harumi Abe: A Stone, A Universe Through March 4 at Terzo Piano, 1515 14th St. NW.

Traditional Japanese culture also underlies Shohei Fujimoto’s “Intangible Forms,” even if visitors to the pulsating Artechouse show might think more of neon-washed city streets than pre-modern sites. The Tokyo artist cites Shinto shrines in remote mountainous locations as an inspiration for “intangible#form,” the show’s centerpiece.

Emanating from 660 red laser-beam modules, the ever-changing 19-minute piece draws cat’s-cradle-like patterns in space — actually on rotating, half-transparent mirrors — in the high-ceilinged main room. When the light beams align vertically, they conjure a bamboo forest, and the lasers are coordinated with percussive outbursts that recall Japanese taiko drumming.

In the venue’s backroom, “intangible#umbra” appears purely geometric but has a playful illusionist touch. The laser modules sling threads of light on a moving gray backdrop, but what appear to be shadows cast by the beam segments are actually separate projections.

“Power of one#empty” is a seemingly 3D box, rendered with white light, that floats and spins in the smallest gallery. The constant motion suggests a cube that’s thinking, or dreaming, of itself. That jibes with Fujimoto’s statement in which he likens his work to “hatching an intangible form that exists within a computer.”

Unlike most Artechouse shows, “Intangible Forms” isn’t interactive. The sequences are designed to transfix human viewers yet proceed without them. Perhaps that’s what is most mathematical about Fujimoto’s installations: They’re as implacable as they are intangible.

Shohei Fujimoto: Intangible Forms Through March 5 at Artechouse, 1238 Maryland Ave. SW.

The capsule-shaped forms in Ruri Yi’s hard-edge abstractions are arranged so methodically that the occasional deviation can appear dramatic — or comic. In her Hemphill Artworks show, the Korea-born Baltimore artist stacks or lines up identically shaped tablets of various flat, bright colors on white backgrounds with machine-like precision. A few of the paintings allow a capsule’s orientation to skew ever so slightly, so it touches or overlaps the adjacent one as if it slipped on a banana peel. The shift is slight, but the effect is arresting.

Yi also hazards a few variations that are more systematic. Some of the paintings employ tombstone-like icons — essentially capsules with the bottom curve flattened — and among these are compositions in which the colors are mostly dark and in a narrower range. Two pictures place multihued forms on red or blue backdrops, which complicates and heightens the color contrasts. There’s also a painting executed all in whites, grays and shades of green. This grid of cool, close hues proves as engrossing as the arrays of hotter, dissimilar ones.

In an interview published by the gallery, Yi declines to interpret her work. But she does allow that she’s inspired by elements of both built and natural environments, including “the corner of a building” or “the unique curves scattered in natural landscapes.” Because Yi’s forms are regular in shape and size, they appear more architectural than organic. They could also be seen as akin to Shohei Fujimoto’s airy edifices, but constructed of color rather than light.

Ruri Yi Through Feb. 25 at Hemphill Artworks, 434 K St. NW.

Contributing to group exhibitions about gun violence, Stephanie Mercedes has previously melted guns and bullets into chimes. Her Culture House show, “A Sky of Shattered Glass Reflected by the Shining Sun,” also includes the molten remains of bullets, but these vestiges have mostly not been reshaped into usable forms. Instead, bullet casings and other pieces of metal were dissolved into random splats, which are affixed to the wall or laid on the floor alongside found objects in a roped-off tableau.

Mercedes is a gay D.C. artist of Argentine heritage whose show “explores ideas of queer vulnerability,” she noted in a recent email. Her assemblages also contain honey, soap, wax, seeds and wooden pipes that turn on motorized metal pivots. The movement of these nonfunctional machines parallels the transformations of materials that are liquefied and cast.

“Percussion music is revolution,” begins a statement from experimental composer John Cage printed on the gallery’s wall. Mercedes’s contribution to this sonic uprising is a clanging, droning soundtrack drawn from the sounds made by throwing bullet casings into a crucible. The tones suggest Indonesian gamelan music, but with less structured sonic patterns. Lingering briefly in the air, these metallic notes are resonant, but also the show’s most vulnerable elements.

Stephanie Mercedes: A Sky of Shattered Glass Reflected by the Shining Sun Through Feb. 25 at Culture House, 700 Delaware Ave. SW.

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