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TO FEB. 3
Imagine if the photorealist painter Richard Estes had worked in 3-D; that would be a rough approximation of the assemblages made by Washington-based artist Janos Enyedi. Enyedi, a onetime member of the Graphic Communications International Union, is currently displaying a dozen or so works at the AFL-CIO headquarters. Appropriately for that venue, Enyedi’s raw material is industrial America: belching smokestacks (pictured), barges full of coal, metal-latticework bridges, earth-moving machinery. Most of the works in this exhibition begin with a realistic-looking factory backdrop, rendered in ultrasmooth acrylics and enamels that strongly echo Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth, among other early-20th century artists who chronicled the American industrial landscape. Enyedi’s twist is to build on these backgrounds by adding one or more meticulously constructed, three-dimensional models of stairways, corrugated walls, cargo trains, or other architectural features. Enyedi’s largest wall sculptures, done in a Diego Rivera-meets-Louise Nevelson style, suffer from their more abstracted vision, but his more intimate pieces feature a lovely rust-brown palette that proves dreamily effective. But one shouldn’t get too suckered by Enyedi’s vision: So idealized is it that smoke plumes rise in perfect symmetry, industrial shorelines glimmer in gauzy sunlight, and clouds of smog smother the viewer in warmth rather than soot. Perhaps oddest of all, Enyedi’s industry-scapes include not a single worker, union or not. How do you think the AFL-CIO likes that vision? The exhibition is on view from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, to Monday, Feb. 3, at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, 815 16th St. NW. Free. (202) 637-5000. (Louis Jacobson)