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TO MAY 14

Victor Schrager’s “Composition as Explanation” could have easily devolved into a seen-one, seen-’em-all type of exhibition. Schrager’s MO is to carefully arrange unadorned hardcover books and then photograph them with an indistinct, fuzzy focus that makes them look much like ’50s color-field paintings—muted palettes of baby blue, beige, olive, and rust. (Untitled (#37) is pictured.) Fortunately, Schrager produces more than just Ab-Ex necrophilia. In Untitled (#54), Schrager perches one book on top of another, allowing it to teeter in an improbable equilibrium. In Untitled (#49), a pair of books rest upright against each other, looking unexpectedly bowed: the Gateway Arch viewed from an oblique angle. Several works are particularly striking because Schrager has managed to depict an exceedingly narrow plane of focus within a mostly unfocused view. In Untitled (#43), for instance, this narrow plane—it can’t be much wider than a centimeter—travels horizontally from right to left, then soars upward along the cover of a book, revealing along the way the tiny, crosshatched fibers of the book’s surface. As impressive as such images are, the simplest, most transformative work is #6, which features a single crimson volume lying on its side, its spine facing the viewer. With an empty but stately background, the photograph gives the strong suggestion of a long velvet couch resting in a quiet museum gallery—a nice bit of meta-art from a clever visionary. The show is on view Tuesdays through Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., to Saturday, May 14, at the David Adamson Gallery, 1515 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 232-0707. (Louis Jacobson)