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TO DEC. 22

Years before the phrase “information systems” meant much to anyone, Peter Halley was obsessed with the conduits of the social machine—man’s relationship to (and alienation from) his environment, his society, and himself. His artworks—brightly colored, geometric diagrams of circuits and microchip shapes, which might as well have been lifted from some hallucinatory manual for a robot brain—are schematics of this investigation. The abstract artist, who hails from New York, began creating his trademark “cell” paintings during the early ’80s in a style engineered with equal roots in the streamlined rigidity of minimalism and the exuberance of pop art. Halley’s work through the late ’80s and into the ’90s continued to fixate on the icon of the cell, playing with various interpretations of the word—including explorations of the notion of formalism in abstract art as a prison. Halley’s current show at Numark Gallery showcases four new paintings (as well as two silk screens and several small mixed-media studies made for the larger pieces) representative of his signature form. The large-scale, two-panel works vibrate with jarring hues: In an untitled painting, Day-Glo lime hums against a deep plum and a nauseous pearlized pink found previously on motherboards and Barbie’s ball gowns. And Proximity Detector (pictured) features a canary-yellow central cell, which stands out in high relief from the delicate weave of the canvas, thanks to a generous application of Roll-A-Tex, a compound designed to lend a stucco texture to walls (another Halley hallmark). Halley’s work is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday (except Thursday, Nov. 22), to Saturday, Dec. 22, at Numark Gallery, 406 7th St. NW. Free. (202) 628-3810. (Shauna Miller)