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TO OCT. 27
Jason Phillips’ style of painting is, to say the least, unusual. He takes slender, carefully sanded pieces of wood that are almost 8 feet long, then paints one of the long sides with a meticulously detailed miniature landscape. The effect is like looking through a barn wall that’s missing a slat: The universe the viewer sees is crisp, yet limited. But if Phillips wins points for concept, his results are inconsistent. Of the three pieces he’s now showing at Fusebox, the 85-inch-long Power Surfing (pictured)—the show’s only vertical work—is least successful. Most of its action takes place on a cresting wave that dominates the piece’s lower tip; the rest of the work is a dull gray sky that’s mounted too high on the gallery wall to be appreciated. More compelling are the two horizontal works. The rock-studded, reddish landscape of Surface strikingly recapitulates the views that were broadcast back to earth by NASA’s Mars Pathfinder mission in 1997—right down to the 360-degree panorama format, in which a circular view is flattened into a long, two-dimensional strip. Phillips’ third piece, Refinery, is his finest. It features the titular industrial facility on its left tip, symmetrically balanced by a burning house on the right, with a wide swath of emptiness in the middle. To judge from the wafting smoke, the wind blows in precisely the same direction on both ends of Refinery—which suggests a larger message about the interconnectedness of mankind’s ravaged environment. But even if that point is lost, it’s still a treat to take in Phillips’ minuscule brush strokes, which faithfully reproduce gnat-size mailboxes and tufts of grass. His work is on view from noon to 8 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays and from noon to 6 p.m. Sundays, to Sunday, Oct. 27, at Fusebox, 1412 14th St. NW. Free. (202) 299-9220. (Louis Jacobson)