Innovation is the first thought that lingers on many artists’ minds before the paintbrush touches canvas. The contemporary artist faces the pressure of moving forward, with the goal of generating a defining style that elicits a reaction from the public. However, Paul Jett, Lindsay Mullen, and Matthew Langley have taken another approach— they transformed an earlier style and made it personal. These artists are celebrated today in District Redefinition, an exhibition that highlights Washington DC metropolitan artists who dare to emulate previous masters and have created a refined mixture of the past and the present.
Paul Jett’s distinctive photographs, inspired by his East Asian language education and travels, focus on the beauty of nature. Emphasizing the contrast between black and white, Jett forms simple representations of bamboo, vines, trees, and birds that parallel East Asian ink paintings. The works chosen for this exhibit are characteristic of Chinese brush work— with a photographical twist.
On the other hand, Lindsay Mullen refrains from explicitly painting nature and instead utilizes emotions to drive her style towards abstraction, extending the boundaries of Impressionism. Inspired by Claude Monet and JMW Turner, Mullen conveys impermanence. Her careful selection of soft colors and variation of brush strokes communicate a sense of harmony and mediation to the viewer. Originally from the UK, Mullen splits her time between DC and Menorca.
Matthew Langley studied at The Corcoran School of Art under the members of the Washington Color School, a 1950s group who admired color field painting. Taking advantage of color to balance vertical stripes, Langley creates a contemplative space that reveals Mark Rothko’s influence. His work revisits Abstract Expressionism’s consistency of process, but also incorporates visual patterns of energy and fulfillment.