In the age of cute YouTube critters, Katie Pumphrey depicts animals that are muscular, kinetic and competitive. The bison, wolves and fish in “Heavyweight,” the D.C. artist’s show at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, appear as if alive in the real world, not putting on a show for a videocam. Whether painted loosely in oils or drawn more precisely in charcoal bathed with acrylic washes, Pumphrey’s subjects defend their territory.
Their stance is unapologetically autobiographical. Raised in rural Maryland, Pumphrey is the youngest of four children. She grew up to be a long-distance swimmer, and last summer she traversed the English Channel. The artist doesn’t put herself, or any other human, into her blue-heavy ocean scenes, which are the show’s most abstract pictures. But she’s there in the jabs of paint that suggest fish in frenzied motion, and swirl dynamically around on a potential food source. What Pumphrey portrays is nothing less than the survival instinct.
Katie Pumphrey: Heavyweight On view through Saturday, June 11th, at Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1643 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-965-4601. callowayart.com.
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