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TO NOV. 29
Judy Pfaff is perhaps best-known for her sculptural installations, especially the 1995 piece Cirque, Cirque, which consisted of nine miles of steel tubing hung from the newly built Philadelphia Convention Center—possibly the world’s largest suspended sculpture. Pfaff’s current exhibition at the David Adamson Gallery toys with much smaller scales (often in the range of 3-feet-by-5-feet) and with radically different techniques, including etchings, collographs, photogravures, lithographs and woodcuts. Pfaff combines these media with abandon, often transferring them onto transparent and translucent surfaces, stacking layer upon layer, and then encasing the result in handmade lacquered frames. The finished pieces shimmer with visual interest: Within the black border of the two-toned print Queen Anne, Pfaff superimposes a faint, spongy, lobsterlike form over a cracked surface that echoes the look of a baked desert floor. The work’s cinnabar-colored interior, meanwhile, intertwines a curvy decorative motif within an intermittent grid of lines that suggest musical staffs. And in Ukbar, Ucbar, Ooqbar, Ookbar, Oukbahr, Pfaff mounts a multicolored array of vaguely humanoid, Spirograph-inspired etchings. Several of her pieces enlarge and reinvent the photographic contact sheet, to striking effect. The four side-by-side images in When the Moon Is Full (pictured) include two dreamy photographs of Japanese-style gardens; a direct botanical impression of a lily pad; and a draftsmanlike conglomeration of concentric circles and squares that, up close, suggests da Vinci sketchwork and further away resolves into a Jasper Johns-style “target.” As in most of Pfaff’s pieces, the textural resonances among her works’ sub-units more than make up for their stylistic divergences—and for Pfaff’s rather obscure symbology. The exhibition is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, and from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, to Friday, Nov. 29, at David Adamson Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 628-0257. (Louis Jacobson)