1860s Restoration in Paris & Recent Paintings by Franck Moëglen

The connection seems rather tenuous—a pair of exhibits with roots in France, part of a multigallery celebration of European Union art going on now around town—but Franck Moëglen’s paintings and a concurrently running selection of photographs from 1860s Paris are all about surface. Moëglen, born in France in 1969, has lived in the Washington area for the past few years, making paintings that combine a Franz Kline fondness for splotches and drips with a Rauschenberg appreciation for mixed media. Moëglen often uses reproductions of old maps as a basis for his works, painting over them with transparent tones of blue, red, and brown. (One features the “burnt district” after Chicago’s great fire (pictured); another, a map of Washington, is so old that it refers to the “Territory of Columbia” and “George Town.”) The meaning of each piece isn’t always clear, but the layering of colors over gridlike geographical forms does exhibit an intriguing resonance with modern-day geographical-information-system printouts. More timeless are the photographs—curated by vintage-photography dealer Jo Tartt—which feature architectural details of the renovations of the cathedral of Notre Dame and the Paris Opera during the 1860s and 1870s. Encompassing a variety of vintage techniques—salt-paper prints, albumen prints from glass-plate negatives, even the stray Woodburytype—the photographs display such variety of tonations that they provide almost as much visual interest as Moëglen’s paintings. The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, July 19, at Troyer Gallery, 1710 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 328-7189. (Louis Jacobson)