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TO FEB. 9

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Something is back there, wheezing among the glowing kelp. Its rhythm imparts an aquariumlike feel to the luminous paintings that radiate from the walls of Numark Gallery, a collection of works by Los Angeles artist Terri Friedman aptly entitled “Breathing Under Water.” The dual-layered, poured-acrylic-on-Plexiglas works are Morris Louis-tinged streaks of color, lit to stained-glass effect by spotlights. And yet, for all their giddy color and shine, the paintings (which feature such queasy titles as Drink in the Ozone and Vigorous Activity on an Empty Stomach) manage to convey something sinister, like the bright, troubled dreams of someone hooked to a ventilator. Tumorous blotches of acid green and brown lurk beneath the surface layers of several of the works where the gelatinous rainbows have run together. And then there is that thing gasping in the next room (Double Vision, pictured). Friedman, who showed at Numark last fall in the group exhibition “The L.A. Scene,” has drawn much critical attention for her trademark kinetic sculptures, which explore the narrowing gap between organism and machine. And it is well-deserved: The heaving Double Vision—two hand-sewn plastic pouches inflating and deflating with the aid of fans on timers—is entirely transfixing. Is it some horrible organ-farming experiment? A desperate, beached alien sea creature? It is at once absurd and delicate, its black extension-cord tentacles at the mercy of the viewer’s feet as they stretch across the floor toward an electric life-source. The thing is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday to Saturday, Feb. 9, at Numark Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 628-3810. (Shauna Miller)