We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
“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.