After a stint in Washington, Cuban-born French artist Rafael Torres Correa is heading home. As a farewell gesture, he and Cross MacKenzie Gallery are presenting “Paysage Expose, Paysage Figurant.” The show’s large abstractions contrast wet and dry, soft and hard. Correa paints atop tile or brick surfaces, and allows their rectangular shapes to imprint on the mottled, free-form compositions. His mostly blue pictures suggest oceans and atolls; others have rich mineral tones of rust, ivory and platinum.
Two of the paintings resemble red brick walls, and all of them have areas that evoke the surfaces of metal and ceramics. Playing on that affinity, Torres has painted a series of individual tiles. These elegant squares stand alone but also look as though they’re ready to be assembled into a larger whole.
Cross MacKenzie always has pottery on display and, in addition to Torres’s work, is now showing Virginia Pates’s porcelain vessels. From one angle, these are in the rustic, intentionally imperfect style known in Japanese as “wabi.” Yet they contain surprises, both visible and not. Pates sometimes incorporates a bit of earth from a specific location, such as James Madison’s Montpelier, that provides the piece’s title. Underneath, the bowls and vases have elaborately scalloped bases, and the inside may be glazed with a vivid, gem-like green or blue. Pates’s creations have as many personalities as they have facets.
Rafael Torres Correa: Paysage Expose, Paysage Figurant and Virginia Pates: Ceramics On view through June 1 at Cross MacKenzie Gallery, 1675 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-337-7970. crossmackenzie.com.
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