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After Louis Foubare nearly lost his eyesight a few years ago, he decided to return to photography for the first time since college—“in order to leave something on earth if blindness were to set in.”
In his exhibit at the Leica Store DC, Foubare offers digital images of a single subject—landscapes of the American Southwest—but with a bifurcated approach—a mix of black-and-white and color images. As it turns out, his black-and-white images are consistently strong, but the color photographs vary from understated to overdramatized.
On the overstated end of the spectrum are images like “Navajo Color Wheel,” in which Foubare portrays wind-sculpted landforms in blink-inducing hues of onion purple, beet red and glowing-charcoal orange. In two other images, his images depict shafts of sunlight as if they were distractingly showy spotlights on a stage.
But other color images are more winning for their unpretentiousness. In “North Rim Sunset,” for instance, Foubare portrays the Grand Canyon by unexpectedly focusing on the knife’s-edge-straight desert floor rather than the more familiar, organically curved landforms.
In “Earth Tone Swirls,” he captures the sky in an unexpected shade of antifreeze blue. And in “Death Valley Alive,” he shows the upper tier of a distant mountain range in a fiery orange, paired with a pale blue sky.
Foubare’s black-and-white images, for their part, include delicate portrayals of sand dunes, an image of a Joshua tree with a surface that suggests a woodcarving, and a photograph of gently rising mist from a rocky floor.
Foubare’s most noteworthy skill is depicting rock surfaces. Perhaps his finest work is “Hayden Rock Storm,” in which the supple, smooth surface of pebbly rockforms in the middle distance play off wrinkled rocks further away, all under a sky dappled with choppy clouds.
Through Sept. 28 at Leica Store DC, 977 F St. NW. (202-787-5900). Sun. 12 p.m.-5 p.m., Mon.–Wed. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Thu.-Fri .10 a.m.–7 p.m., Sat 10 a.m.–6 p.m.