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Linling Lu

A piece by Linling Lu

FEATURES

Art & Soul

By Alice Cisternino and Michael McCarthy

Artwork photo by Matthew Kleinrock Photography | Dupont Underground photo by The Washington Post/Getty

11.30.17

Whether it’s a team of digital-art visionaries or a national showcase of Asian art, DC’s art scene is as innovative and intellectually challenging as ever. Enjoy the wild ride this winter.

GALLERY TO CHERISH
Hemphill Fine Arts showcases local color genius Linling Lu.

Veteran gallery owner and collector George Hemphill doesn’t equivocate when it comes to the work of Linling Lu. “As an art dealer, it’s incumbent upon me to select and promote an artist as important—often claiming he or she to be more important than what proceeded or competes,” says Hemphill, owner of Hemphill Fine Arts on 14th Street. “Lu’s painting and her stance as an artist step back from self-expression in a Western sense and in the competitiveness inherent to most artists’ careers. Her work expresses the existence of a kind of unity and the hope for greater unity.” And then there’s the intense and mesmerizing color of Lu’s pieces, reminiscent of the Washington Color School movement from the late 1950s to the late 1960s. Like the practitioners of the movement, Hemphill says Lu’s work isn’t a rendering of something in the world—it’s color not representative of anything but color. “Yet her work differs in its purpose and reflects its maker’s belief in the usefulness of art beyond the artwork itself,” he says. In other words, sit with Lu’s work for a while and become transported, which is one of art’s missions. The artist herself says painting has become a practice to build endurance and compassion while also embracing the beauty of solitude. “Her paintings have made me a better person—I am thankful and awestruck,” says Hemphill. Through Dec. 16, 1515 14th St. NW

DIGITAL BY DESIGN
Sandro and Tati transform the District’s idea of a gallery experience.

Last summer, the founders of ARTECHOUSE—the city’s first gallery space dedicated to digital art—changed the way Washingtonians experience contemporary art. XYZT: Abstract Landscapes was a visual thrill ride for patrons as they walked through an exhibit that undulated in fantastic waves in response to movement. The brains behind this space are Sandro and Tati, who also created Art Soiree in 2009 to expose the city to emerging artists. “We’re at the beginning of the new renaissance in arts, where technology as the new medium allows artists to create and innovate, revolutionizing art forms of expression,” says Sandro. Tati, who moved to Washington from her home of Crimea 17 years ago to attend George Washington University, says the goal for ARTECHOUSE was also to make a profound impact on the local and national art scene. “Artists have always been looking outside of what’s considered traditional—technology has really created new possibilities for this,” she says. The Imaginary World of Nutcracker, Dec. 1-Jan. 30, 1238 Maryland Ave. SW

Subodh Gupta's “Terminal”

TOWERING AMBITION
Subodh Gupta’s work at the Sackler provides a season of optimism.

Renowned contemporary artist Subodh Gupta advocates tolerance by using captivating abstract forms. Entering the Smithsonian’s Sackler Pavilion (part of the newly reopened Arthur M. Sackler Gallery), one encounters “Terminal,” Gupta’s installation of 30 gleaming brass towers—from 1 to 15 feet high—connected by thousands of white cotton strings. For the artist, whose father worked at a train station, a terminal is a place where journeys are underway. Gupta also references India’s religious architecture. He observes how spires—without iconographic finials—are virtually indistinguishable. “Religions change the symbols on top, but the foundation is the same,” says the New Delhi-based artist. “There is one religion, and it belongs to everyone.” Carol Huh, associate curator of contemporary Asian art at the Freer/Sackler, says the threads provide counter tension. “[This work] is optimistic. Its web of interdependence reveals that connections between people are unavoidable.” Through June 24, 1050 Independence Ave. SW

BIG THINKER
Linn Meyers’ star is on the rise as she creates intricately large masterpieces.

Linn Meyers is making her mark—dot by dot and line by line. The local artist’s compositions are a delicate net between viewers and the abyss. Finding freedom through boundaries, Meyers limits her palette and types of strokes; she creates rhythm by contrast and accumulation. “The human gesture is so rich—it is enough,” Meyers says to describe her visual language. Scale is her signature artistic element, giving breadth to her pieces. While her 16th Street Heights studio provides a haven for smaller works, her reputation is building from monumental public installations like this year’s "Our View From Here" at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum. Meyers recently completed a triptych for the lobby at Columbia Square in Northwest and has upcoming exhibitions at the Columbus Museum of Art and Bowdoin Museum of Art. She recently co-founded STABLE—a studio complex for visual artists—opening in DC’s Eckington neighborhood next year. As her purview expands, Meyers’ goal remains clear. “I will keep doing things that matter to me,” she says. 

Julian Hunt

Julian Hunt

DOWN UNDER
Dupont Underground continues to offer dialogue and intrigue below the city.

Architect Julian Hunt lives with this question: How do you build democracy? Public spaces, he believes, are part of the answer. So, a few years ago, when Hunt noticed the abandoned streetcar station beneath Dupont Circle, he foresaw its tunnels as a forum like no other. He founded Dupont Underground to strengthen DC’s arts infrastructure by providing an alternative to commercial galleries and museums. “Every city that has vibrant culture produces culture of its own,” he says. Notably, both Hunt and Philippa Hughes, the board chair, invite discomfort as a way to provoke dialogue. The subterranean space itself feels transgressive and mysterious. And the public programs and exhibitions—including this month’s An Odyssey: Brian Daily Digital Work, showcasing video-wanderlust themes—draw diverse audiences, who might not ordinarily interact. “Everything is to support conversations that build relationships,” Hughes says. “When you listen to others, you create empathy.” Brian Daily’s work through Jan. 15, 19 Dupont Circle NW