TO FEB. 19

To the right kind of eye, even the humble traffic light offers dramatic visual possibilities. Robert Olsen, a realist painter working in Los Angeles and New York City, has assembled a 15-piece exhibition at G Fine Art from subtle renderings of stoplights hung within a featureless universe of enveloping darkness. To make his small panels, Olsen lays down 20 coats of oil paint, alternating each one with a wet sanding to arrive at a black background that looks at once highly varnished and profoundly blank. Against this void, Olsen’s creamy whites and luminous reds, yellows, and greens shine as beacons of salvation. A quartet of works on spiral-bound-notebook paper features watercolors and Olsen’s meticulous handwritten technical calculations, but the artist more commonly veers toward the abstract, most strikingly when he dispenses with the poles and metal light casings and simply plots pinpoints of red light that recall a UFO visitation. Showing simultaneously at G is Czech-born photographer Jitka Hanzlova, whose color portraits of women (from a book project titled Female) exude a washed-out airlessness reminiscent of the portraits of Washingtonian Chan Chao or the ’70s landscapes of Stephen Shore. Hanzlova’s fair-skinned subjects pose casually—waiting, expectant—amid varied backgrounds of soft focus and bold geometries. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, Feb. 19, at G Fine Art, 1515 14th St. NW, Suite 200. Free. (202) 462-1601. (Louis Jacobson)