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TO APRIL 21
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Hal Hirshorn may paint at the dawn of the 21st century, but his work more closely resembles that of a major artist from the late 19th century: Albert Pinkham Ryder. Like Ryder, Hirshorn uses thick layers of oil paint to express moody, visionary landscapes. Also like Ryder, he gives his paintings a reflective, almost varnished feelunburdened, for now, by the intense cracking that mars Ryder’s works. Hirshorn is hardly the only contemporary artist who paints ultra-abstract landscapes (Pool of Bathsheba is pictured). But unlike others, whose works bristle with ethereal pinks, purples, and oranges, Hirshorn uses a more angst-filled palette of blackish greens, mustard yellows, and mahogany reds. This formula works best when Hirshorn’s brushstrokes are subdued and when the scene is suggestive rather than literal; Delphi and Leander, for instance, work because they may, or may not, portray campfire smoke. Alongside Hirshorn’s paintings are local photographer Danny Conant’s sepia-toned photographs. Conant prints on Tibetan-style, irregularly textured paper that she makes herself. The Ralls show includes 17 images by Conant, all taken in Tibet. Unfortunately, Conant’s intriguing format miniaturizes her sweeping landscapes, and the images that include modern-looking objects exude a weird, anachronistic vibe. But her lovely portraits of smiling children and working monks more than make up for the deficit: These images have precisely the right aura of timelessness. The work of both artists is on view from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, April 21, at the Ralls Collection, 1516 31st St. NW. Free. (202) 342-1754. (Louis Jacobson)