Curator’s Office, a tiny corner space in one of DC’s few gallery buildings, has one more day with Dawn Black‘s mysterious and delicately painted watercolor, ink, and gouache works on paper. Black paints small-scale portraits of individuals wearing masks, uniforms, couture fashion, prison garb, ethnic attire, and other random eccentric forms of concealment. The figures are all “real” people (none being from imagination) painted from images found on the Internet and in various periodicals. Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” When I was in DC this week I got a chance to peer in and see the show. If you can, stop by and see it tomorrow.
Kriston Capps, who reviewed the show at Art in America, reports that Black depicts the U.S. that much of the world knows despite — and possibly notwithstanding — the election of Barack Obama. “Black’s drawings provide a global gloss of the bizarre social customs that frame material culture — from the glammed-out Los Angeles toddler to a Kabuki theater dancer. Adhering to found images and viewer expectations, Black is able to deliver a nuanced impression of the world — or of the U.S., from the world — that might have very well gotten lost over the exultant months leading up to and following Obama’s election. In Black’s work, the surreal is sobering-people aren’t who they say they are, but what they pretend to be.”
“Dawn Black: The Conceal Project,” Curator’s Office, Washington, D.C. Extended through March 28.