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The three artists included in the current exhibit at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery—-Jim Sanborn, Anish Kapoor, and Gene Davis—-are giants both conceptually and visually. Sanborn, a D.C. native, has produced a wide range of scientific-based works, including meditations on the nuclear age, geometric projections on western landscapes and a famed cryptologic sculpture/puzzle at CIA headquarters. Kapoor is best known for his reflective bubble sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and, locally, for an optically perplexing, Prussian-blue spheroid at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. And Davis, of course, is the legendary D.C.-based stripe painter. But one sees only glimpses of their genius in Mateyka’s show. Kapoor’s abstract, watercolor-like aquatints from 1988 are burdened by their downbeat shades of rust and chocolate, while Davis’ thin, pencil-drawn stripes from 1984 are appealing, but in a Ralph Lauren bedsheet-design way. The most impressive works are Sanborn’s glossy-surfaced photographic stills from his 2008 video “Hydra,” in which he documented the gradual sublimation of a solid block of dry ice. But while the wispy vapor emanations captured by the stills are dreamily intriguing, it’s a pity the video isn’t on view, since its motion and soundtrack—- all Arctic winds and melting ice –surely must provide a fuller experience.
Through Jan. 15 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R Street NW, Washington, D.C. (202) 328-0088. Open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5:00 pm.