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TO FEB. 2
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Someone’s Spirograph-happy at the Gallery at Flashpoint. The space’s current exhibition, “Theme and Variation,” presents 18 drawings from Adam Fowler, an artist with an apparently monomaniacal disposition. Each of his drawings contains an intricate web of interwoven graphite arcs and semicircles that vary in terms of thickness but are otherwise never weighted; the artist exerts an even, mechanical pressure when drawing. There’s some gestural freedom to indicate that they were drawn freehand, but the overall consistency suggests a rigid geometry. What follows the act of drawing in Fowler’s works is more remarkable, at least in terms of time consumption: Once he’s evenly distributed the arcs across a page, Fowler painstakingly subtracts all of the negative space—every bit of bare paper—with a razor blade. The result is a raised drawing, like a relief or an embossing, reduced to all figure and no ground. There are no formal titles; Fowler’s works (one of which is pictured) indicate only how many pieces—one to four—of vented, graphite doily were layered to make these compositions. One three-layered, 14-inch-by-18-inch work features a handful of dark, broad graphite lines covered by two screens of thinner, grayed-out graphite interference. The shadows cast within several overlapping pieces recall a pile of flattened, oxidized rubber bands at the bottom of a desk drawer, or perhaps a mass of disused string, but the overall effect is one of visual confusion rather than visual interest. He does better with less: Where Fowler keeps things simpler, particularly in such spare compositions as a 5-inch-by-7-inch one-layered work, subtler dynamics come into play. Ultimately, though the show’s a clever variation on a simple conceit, Fowler’s playing a one-note tune. The show is on view from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Wednesday, Feb. 2, at the Gallery at Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW. Free. (202) 315-1310. (Jeffry Cudlin)