Beau Chamberlain’s a very current sort of abstract painter, with his focus on the external world. After the Blues is a good example: Over a robin egg-blue field, Chamberlain paints a scene that draws from aquatic flora and microscopic fauna. Tendrils of paint rise leisurely from the bottom left of the canvas, as if underwater; the real action takes place higher up and to the right, where prokaryotic cells of Easter-tinted acrylic cluster in a large culture. A few stray archipelagos of paint complete the composition, but Chamberlain conspicuously avoids the center of the painting—a strategy that distances him from all-over painters such as Julie Mehretu. Chamberlain’s work bears some inescapable similarities to a very New York mode of abstraction practiced by Mehretu and Sue Williams, among others. His execution is particularly fine; for example, Chamberlain uses a toothbrush to fleck paint at the canvas to make a misty mark resembling the detail on a speckled egg. Sometimes forms stick out, like the candy corns in Breathing Was the Easy Part, but Chamberlain’s bold and appealing Easter palette makes for a typically even field. Compositionally, however, the works leave something to be desired. His forms seem to exist in a state of drift—there’s no play between the islands of form and the oceans of color. This is especially true of Everybody Broke Me Up, a wall-mounted installation. Depth seems to be the issue: Now that he’s mastered laying out his paints onto a surface, the next frontier is manipulating them in space. The exhibition is on view from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays, to Sunday, Dec. 2, at Project 4, 903 U St. NW. Free. (202) 232-4340.