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TO AUG. 19
Skip over the highfalutin’ explanation of Kari Soinio’s photographs. Tune out the claim that his works “reflect both sides of the middle-class dream,” symbolized by the image of a partial police car or a skyward view of window bars. Appreciate instead the Helsinki-based artist’s inspired style: making perfectly circular images (ranging from 40 cm to 80 cm in diameter) that are boldly unfocused and wedged into industrial-chic glass-and-metal frames. Ever since Kodak put the kibosh on its circular prints a century ago, circular formats have been rare enough that few photographers have bothered developing an eye for composing them. Soiniowho actually crops his circles out of ordinary, rectangular 35 mm filmseems to have a knack for it, especially when he sticks to uncomplicated geometrical forms. The loosely drawn triangles of a Winslow Homer-worthy sailboat, the bold diagonal of an on-ramp, the soaring contour of a passenger bus: They all share a pleasing, art-deco simplicity. Soinio also toys gainfully with such classical forms as architectural columns, and in No. 10 (2001), he turns what seems to be the wooden frame of an unbuilt house into a form as eloquent as the Parthenon. The thematic and visual climax of the exhibit comes with No. 11 (2001) (pictured)a portrait of a family that’s so out of focus you can’t tell whether everyone’s smiling or frowning. Think of it as Finnish Gothic. The show is on view by appointment to Tuesday, Aug. 19, at Ingrid Hansen Gallery, 1203 19th St. NW, Suite 300. Free. (202) 266-5022. (Louis Jacobson)