The “he” and “she” of Amy Sillman’s “Third Person Singular” describes the couples the New York artist sketches and then, on a separate canvas, reduces to abstraction. These black-and-white drawings inspire her bold-hued paintings with touches of cubism, color field, and strong lines that keep the eye darting around the canvas. For Sillman, the observation of her selected couples is as important as the process of painting. “Drawing gave me license to stare at them…looking at them makes me the ‘other.’ My psychiatrist gets a gleeful look on her face when I talk about it,” she said in a dialogue for the museum catalog. The shallow tangles of limbs in her drawings make way for more therapy fodder—Sillman said the hundreds of layers of oil paint on each of the 13 canvases conceal anxieties and feelings about coupledom.

The exhibition is on view from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily to Sunday, July 6, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Avenue & 7th St. SW. Free. (202) 633-4674. —-Maura Judkis