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Polly Townsend, a British-born artist who works in Paris and London, offers an intimate tour of her creative process in a diverse but taut exhibit at Flashpoint. Townsend’s inspiration comes from desolate, rough-hewn mountain regions; the exhibit offers not only her finished products (an oil on canvas that pays homage to Georgia O’Keeffe as well as a smaller oil on linen) but also a variety of way stations from along her artistic quest. Some are needlessly self-indulgent, such as the series of line graphs showing the course of her moods over five days, but others are inspired spinoffs. A matrix of photographs of badlands suggests, in both form and substance, the fractured western landscapes of Mark Klett, while other photographs nicely contrast rugged, beige rockscapes with ice-blue, cloud-filled skies. A short video loop uses stop-motion to smartly capture slow tectonic movements as well as the artist’s progress on her works; its Escherian complexity suggests a digital-era equivalent of Duane Michals’ 1970s photosequences. But the most notable piece (pictured) may be the image of a curvaceous landform with an erotic charge heightened by a delicate dribble of ice down the side of one “leg.”
Through Sept. 15 at Flashpoint, 916 G St NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 315-1305