• Just one week ago, MarninArt opened in the third floor space on
vacated by Eklektikos. The place is already haunted. Ghosts of European movements past -- surrealism, futurism, neo-expressionism and arte povera -- prowl the place. Of them, expressionists get the most play. MarninArt's inaugural show, "Collettiva 1," is dotted with Important Names. Neo-expressionists Sandro Chia, Miquel Barcelo and Rainer Fetting are here. So are Robert Rauschenberg and Alexander Calder. Some of their works, however, are pretty ho-hum. My favorite is Armand Fernandez's arte poveraesque accumulation of tiny thingamajigs seemingly quarried from inside a retractable pen. Milanese couple Antonella and Ross Manganelli, who opened the gallery, say they will show Picasso editions in September.
Thursday, June 19, 2003; Page C05 "Collettiva 1" at MarninArt Gallery, 406 Seventh St. NW , Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 202-347-3327, to Aug. 1.
True to Hue 4 Ever: Photos for The Ages
By Jessica Dawson Special to The Washington Post Thursday, October 23, 2003; Page C05
Time isn't kind to color photos. Pull out those '70s-era snapshots and see what I mean. For photographers hoping to match the life expectancy of their color output to that of a Rembrandt: Good luck.
Milan-born photographer Bianca Sforni worries about preservation. She loves working in color but fears those inevitable tonal shifts. Her desire to circumvent time's toll has led her to archival printing techniques, including the closely guarded Fresson process developed in France. But for her latest works, on view through Nov. 18 at Marninart Gallery, Sforni used a process performed at Ataraxia Studio, a 10-minute drive outside Philadelphia. At Ataraxia, stable pigments -- not the dyes used in traditional color processes -- are affixed to the paper's surface. Prints are made in the manner of a silk-screen: Light is shot through a positive (transparency), which in turn hits a layer of pigments that adhere to the paper. Four shots are made, one for each color -- cyan, magenta, yellow and black. (It's not unlike the four-color separations of offset printing used for the color pages of this newspaper.) This rigmarole is expensive and time-consuming, but Sforni cherishes the payoff: Pigment will outlast fading and color shifts under ideal -- and very dim -- museum lighting conditions for more than 500 years. Not only does the process satisfy Sforni's preservation anxieties, but it also gives her prints a painterly surface. Unlike the typical color print's even plane, the face of these pigment prints varies in depth and texture. Angle your head a bit and watch the play of light on the surface and you'll see that some areas are satiny, some glossy, depending on the amount of pigment. As for colors, they're rich and saturated: Flowers are crimson with yellow highlights. The pink lights of a nightclub burn fuchsia. Yet all that punchy color never smarts. Instead, it's a sensual treat. These twin themes -- of preservation and of sensual experience -- inform Sforni's subject matter, too. She's intent on capturing and freezing ephemeral pleasures. Her portraits of a flower indigenous to the Nevada desert are lovingly shot, some with the flower bud tightly rolled up or, more beautifully, with its tendrils unfurling in five fingerlike petals. At Marninart, a trio of these red flower pictures, printed in rich pigment, are some of the strongest in the show. Shot against a flat gray background, the buds approach abstraction but manage also to resemble other things -- for me, an architect's computer models came to mind. Alongside these evocative pictures, Sforni shows pictures of exotic dancers shot inside strip clubs. Lit by spotlights that translate into electric colors in her prints, the performers are washed in an unearthly glow. The artist's large-scale black-and-white silver gelatin prints, also on view, coax erotic content from their subjects. One, of the tapered column of a pistol cartridge that Sforni printed more than six feet tall, takes on the shape of a human body. Warmed up by the solarizing process during printing, the bullet has a creamy texture that's almost fleshy. In another picture, a brushy bonsai, also writ impossibly large, promises to deliver a delightfully coarse touch. For Sforni, extra-large black-and-white printing makes for heightened sensuality. It takes a healthy dose of ego for an artist to preoccupy herself so steadfastly with the preservation of her work. But with two such strong sets of pictures on view, future health is worth worrying about.
Chagall's Realm of Fantastical Visions
By Jessica Dawson
Special to The Washington Post Thursday, December 18, 2003; Page C05
• A Russian Jew who came to Paris in 1910, Marc Chagall painted magical realism with a twist. His whimsical paintings depicted folktales and Jewish proverbs with a choppy, cubist bent. In the late 1920s, French publisher Ambrose Vollard commissioned the painter to create engravings of the fables of 17th-century poet Jean de la Fontaine as well as a series of Biblical tales -- both fantastical subjects well suited to his style. Selections from both series, some hand-colored by the artist, are on view at Marninart. Whether it's a burning bush or hen roosting on a golden egg, Chagall's dreamlike vision brings these stories to life. A handful of illustrated artist's books are also on view.
Marc Chagall at Marninart Gallery, 406 Seventh St. NW, Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday noon-5 p.m., 202-347-3327, to Jan. 20.
A recent untitled mixed-media work by Maraniello. (Marninart Gallery)
Giuseppe Maraniello's Missed Signals
By Jessica Dawson Special to The Washington Post Thursday, July 15, 2004; Page C05
• Italian artist Giuseppe Maraniello deploys enough symbols to fill a tarot deck. This is fine if you go for that sort of thing. But his mixed-media paintings and sculptures, on view at MarninArt, don't add up to all the artist so desperately expects them to: Stark and dark, they have the harsh quality of an edict. The hermaphrodite, the devil and the man-beast biting his own tail make appearances in sculptures taking vaguely cruciform or winged shapes and in paintings that incorporate panel or canvas in bronze frames. Self-conscious and authoritarian, his works are best missed.
Giuseppe Maraniello at MarninArt Gallery, 406 Seventh St. NW, Wednesday-Saturday noon-6 p.m., 202-347-3327, to Sept. 8.