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In his first solo exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery in five years, Christopher French—-a longtime figure in the D.C. art scene who’s now based on Long Island—-offers pieces that are as much brain teasers as they are artworks. In one series, French uses repeated tilde-shaped forms in a wide array of hues. The shapes look like they’re commercially produced stickers applied to a dull, duct-tape-gray background, but they’re actually cutouts revealing the color beneath, somehow made without any errors ion overlap. Equally painstaking are French’s matrices of dots of varying sizes and colors. Each dot’s color is made by luscious brushstrokes of oil paint, meticulously oriented with either horizontal or vertical strokes in alternating order. (When I noticed two dots attached with the “wrong” orientation, I wondered whether it was a mistake or an inside joke. I’m still not sure.) French’s newest series is probably his least compelling. it’s Op-Art based on hand-drawn lines, dots and spirograph-like curves that, taken together, suggest stylized flowers. Even here, though, the details are important; in a variation on his earlier works, French’s oil-paint dots come with an intriguing, stucco-like surface. As with all of his works, it’s exasperating not being able to touch them.
The exhibit is on view 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday to April 30 at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW, Washington, D.C. Free. (202) 328-0088)