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The Washington Post

In the galleries: An early spring is always welcome

By Mark Jenkins  February 17, 2017


Kiki McGrath & Jean Jinho Kim

Swirls of green suggest the botanical origins of Kiki McGrath’s expressionist abstractions, but the local artist also has drawn on another source, examples of which are part of this Studio Gallery show. Alongside the paintings, “Aerial Roots” displays three sculptures inspired by ikebana — Japanese flower-arranging — and made by local devotees of the art form.

These are large, burly and far from traditional. Rather than dainty flowers and grasses, the assemblages feature log-size branches and unnatural accents; one incorporates chunks of vine painted orange. With them, McGrath has installed a black rubber hose, coiled and hanging in midair. The shape of this gardening accessory echoes the spirals in the paintings and pays an amusing tribute to ikebana. The found-object sculpture is not flower-arranging, but it is an act of transformation, and that’s an fundamental theme of Japanese art.


Downstairs, Jean Jinho Kim has clustered everyday objects in ways that complement “Aerial Roots.” The Leesburg artist’s “No Boundaries” is more far-ranging, but it does include glittering mock butterflies and — in a piece titled “Garden 1 60-12” — two roselike blooms. If Kim’s assemblages include many industrial materials, there is a hint of ikebana amid the car parts and LEDs.


Kiki McGrath: Aerial Roots and Jean Jinho Kim: No Boundaries On view through Feb. 25 at Studio Gallery, 2108 R St. NW. 202-232-8734.