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TO MARCH 20
There’s a lot going on in Ian Whitmore’s pictures. From a distance, you’d guess he was a neo-Pollock, smearing and splattering bold bouquets of color and texture. Get a little closer, however, and you’ll see that works such as Drizzle and Clearing are actually representational. (Clamor is pictured.) They’re stuffed with little creatures, almost as copious as in a Bosch painting. Except that—even closer now—the critters are not the teeming damned, choking on the sulfurous smoke of hell. They’re innocent creatures of field and forest: ponies, deer, birds, and sheep, almost banal enough for Jeff Koons. In fact, the one unsmudgy piece here, the diptych Split-Up, depicts a prepubescent girl (or two) whose walls are decorated with posters of horses like the ones that emerge from the messy depths of some of the larger canvases. Whitmore may not offer something for everyone, but he certainly has a different thing for every level—and not just every level of these paintings, but every level of art history and theory. He can be loose; he can be precise. He can be passionate; he can be ironic. Sure, some of these pieces seem calculating: Mahler(ish) proves that Whitmore can execute a traditional portrait, but he slops some paint in the upper-left-hand corner just in case anyone might think he’s the kind of guy who would execute a traditional portrait. The painter certainly hasn’t boxed himself in: He can go up or down in the multitiered world he’s fashioned. The show is on view from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, to Saturday, March 20, at Fusebox, 1412 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 299-9220. (Mark Jenkins)