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TO APRIL 28
Kyi May Kaung
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Unlike even the most experimental artists who preceded them, the abstract expressionists of the mid-20th century prided themselves on ignoring cues from the tangible world. For them, art was predominantly a way to express their deepest emotions. On first inspection, Henry Callahan’s acrylics on canvas—now showing at the Foundry Gallery along with works by Kyi May Kaung—call to mind the works of Barnett Newman and Mark Rothko. But where those ab-ex giants would channel their emotions, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Callahan unabashedly channels nature when making his abstractions: Before the Storm (pictured) calls to mind a sea-and-sky horizon, complete with piscine forms roiling in the ocean. Similarly, Titanium Crescent features cresting waves and vertical strips that approximate undersea vegetation; the dark-hued upper half of Concrete Jungle suggests a deep forest. Kaung’s palette is much lighter, though not always cheerier. Her works are a mix of watercolors and monotypes, influenced almost equally by Asian calligraphy and Western action painting: Several of her calligraphic pieces suggest a cacophony of street signs in an urban business district, whereas a number of her inkblot-filled works spin propulsively beyond the matte in the spirit of Jackson Pollock or Franz Kline. But her simplest works are her most pleasing; Courage and Haiku (for DG), feature balletic brushstrokes that cohere in near-perfect harmony. Both artists’ works are on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday; and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, to Sunday, April 28, at Foundry Gallery, 9 Hillyer Court NW. Free. (202) 387-0203. (Louis Jacobson)