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“Wicked Maine,” Alexander Vasiljev’s exhibit of Down East photographs, is technically precise but thematically less than groundbreaking. Craggy seaside scenes, aging lighthouses, rolling cloud formations—-they’re all here, desolate and starkly beautiful, but much what you would expect Maine to look like.
In Vasiljev’s large, finely detailed, matte-finish prints, the big picture is usually less compelling than the small details: the touch of blue sky in an otherwise gray seascape, the peeling whitewash on a footbridge to a lighthouse, or the green algae in a pond that contrasts with red-painted wood buildings.
Some of Vasiljev’s strongest photographs possess a rigorous internal geometry. In one image (top), a rocky promontory sweeps around, cut deep by grooves that trace a surprisingly smooth swoop. Another (middle) features light and dark trees in a dreamy, intricately layered lattice.
The artist’s biggest risks come in works that have been distorted as if they were made through a lens covered by raindrops, producing images with a distinctly painterly feel. After a surplus of tame fastidiousness, these works show a welcome dash of whimsy.
Through Nov. 29 at Watergate Gallery & Frame Design, 2552 Virginia Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. (202) 338-4488. Mon-Fri 10-6, Sat 12-5.