Fresh impressions 

Visual arts review | Thru Aug. 23

Visual arts review | Thru Aug. 23

Wiz Kudowor is a long way from home. The artist, just completing his visit here as his exhibition at Kuaba Gallery comes to a close, will soon return to his home country of Ghana; but he is no stranger to traveling long distances to exhibit his artwork. Kudowor has shown elsewhere in the U.S. and also in Japan, and his work is included in numerous collections abroad. Kuaba Gallery, one of the newer art venues along the east end of the Massachusetts Avenue corridor, has an ongoing collection of art and wares from Ghana and other African countries. Whether or not the viewer is aware of Kudowor"s country of origin, his artwork is at once culturally specific and universal. Employing Ghanaian "adrinka" symbols as well as iconic imagery such as animals, shapes and other forms, Kudowor"s work "is based on my impressions about life," he says. "A lot of the time I allow people to feel out the work and relate to it themselves. It is based on a lot of things I experience on a day-to-day basis." The artist is specifically referring to his triptych, "24 Hours," three large canvases that depict the events of one day and night. These are replete with stylized images of people and animals, cars, buildings and other implements of our daily lives alongside "adrinka" symbols, as well as those from other cultures. "Oye Nyame," for example, represents "the omnipotence and immortality of God." The large canvases, painted in acrylics, are complex and yet accessible: The more graphic imagery and text are underlaid by a landscape of colors. In the first, the colors of morning grace the canvas; in the second, the sun is in full force like a starburst emerging from the background. And finally, night has descended in all manner of blue and indigo. Kudowor"s other paintings, representing a more familiar style for the artist, are also somewhat stylized and incorporate symbols and figures. In these, figures fill the canvas and are laid down on a background of multitudinous colors within uniform color fields, such as browns, reds or greens. The figures, often in a sensuous embrace, are dreamlike, as if they are moving through water, at once tranquil and frenetic. Passion is, after all, moved by energy. Sharing the gallery with Kudowor is Indianapolis" Carol White, recipient of a 2002 Creative Renewal Fellowship. White"s brilliantly colored paintings, smallish abstractions of winding paths, corridors and undulating land graced with stylized figures are a lovely complement to Kudowor"s large-scale paintings. The work of both artists is on view at Kuaba Gallery, 876 Massachusetts Ave., 955-8405, through Aug. 23.

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