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to sept. 2
One thing’s certain about the 12 recent art-school graduates in Irvine Contemporary’s new show, “Introductions 2”: They’ve all absorbed current accepted norms of craft and presentation. Maryland Institute College of Art MFA Courtney Jordan, for example, makes precisionist-influenced paintings of industrial steel structures with gouache and ink on sheets of semiopaque Mylar. These sheets are cleverly layered to create atmospheric perspective—closer objects are on the top sheet; distant ones are dimly visible underneath. In Ascension Structure, everything is pressed between sheets of Plexiglass, creating a familiar, superclean vibe. Virginia Commonwealth University’s Joseph McSpadden makes similarly plastic work: He sandwiches goopy gel between long, thin strips of canvas, which are slathered with thick monochrome paint. Though McSpadden claims to refer to the flesh in paintings by Lucien Freud or Frank Auerbach, his three untitled pieces instead look like Wayne Thiebaud’s confections, covered in pink and yellow cake frosting and draped across clear Lucite pegs. Heidi Johansen stands out not only as the lone 2005 grad, but also as the only Canadian, coming from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver. Naturally, Johansen mounts her c-prints on sheets of aluminum and wood. Her images, though, are idiosyncratic. Tessa Diving shows one topless girl apparently being pushed into a lake by another who’s wearing a beach towel like a hooded cape. The shot looks staged and strangely inauthentic; it initially appears to be from the 1970s, thanks to its slightly muted color and fake negative scratches. This subtle assortment of miscues dislocates the viewer and makes Johansen’s two pieces stand out. Overall, these hopeful grads are making respectable work. (Melissa Ichiuji’s Randy Girl is pictured.) But at this point, it’s too early to tell if they’ll be doing much more than fitting in with the crowd. “Introductions 2” is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, to Saturday, Sept. 2, at Irvine Contemporary, 1412 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 332-8767. (Jeffry Cudlin)