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In his first solo exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery in five years, Christopher French—a longtime figure in the D.C. art scene who’s now based on Long Island—offers pieces that are as much brain-teasers as they are works of art. In one series, French repeats multi-colored, tilde-shaped forms; the shapes look like commercially produced stickers applied to a duct-tape-gray background, but they’re actually cutouts revealing colors beneath. Just as painstaking are matrices of dots, whose colors are made by luscious brushstrokes of oil paint. The dots are meticulously oriented with either horizontal or vertical strokes, in alternating order. (When I noticed two dots attached with the “wrong” orientation, I wondered whether it was a mistake or an inside joke. I’m still not sure.) French’s newest series is probably his least compelling. It’s Op-Art based on hand-drawn lines, dots, and spirograph-like curves that, taken together, suggest stylized flowers. Even here, though, the details are important; in a variation on his earlier works, French’s oil paint dots come with an intriguing, stucco-like surface. Not being able to touch them is exasperating.
The exhibition is on view 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday to April 30 at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW. Free. (202) 328-0088.