Right: Anne Marchand, Counterpoint, enamel, acrylic, mixed on canvas, 36 x 36 inches. Left: Brian Kirk, Woven Table, welded, forged, woven and powder coated steel & glass, 24 x 24 x 24 inches.

Brian Kirk and Anne Marchand Make Magic at Zenith Gallery

Primarily Abstract: Works by Brian Kirk and Anne Marchand

Zenith Gallery

1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. through November 19

By Benjamin Genocchio 

Zenith Gallery in Washington D.C. is presenting two delightful, smartly complimentary exhibitions of the work of artists who not only adhere to the concept of making and of aesthetic beauty in contemporary art but actively, rigorously revel in it. 

The show is on view at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington D.C. 20004, where the gallery maintains an expansive space on the ground floor foyer area of a large building in addition to a gallery, salon and sculpture garden across town on Iris Street. This year the gallery celebrates its 44th anniversary in the nation's capital.   


Brian Kirk, Vertical Vision, welded and powder-coated steel, 84 x 16 x 16 inches.

Primarily Abstract is the name of the show, which more or less sums up the works by Brian Kirk and Anne Marchand on view. Kirk is a sculptor who works in welded steel, powder coated in primary colors for the most part. The objects are totemic in nature if not intent, designed to be displayed both inside and outside although given the level of perfection he strives for in the finishes they properly belong indoors. 

Kirk’s sculptures feel most creative and exciting when he welds together random bits of steel to build abstract hybrid forms. Fisheye and Intertwined are fine examples, combining a range of abstract metal pieces that coalesce to create organic forms so lush and sensual in composition that they look like they are carved of butter.

The tension between geometry and nature found in these sculptures is a part of their appeal, along with the slippages between figuration and abstraction alluded to in the exhibition title. Some pieces in the show depict things, such as the human hand, or a beetle, or a dinosaur, but mostly they are abstract vertical forms with the steel pieces stacked one upon another in a manner that seemingly defies gravity. 

There is a lot to like in Kirk’s art, which comes in a variety of sizes and is designed to embellish homes — they are decorative at heart, but interesting conceptually as well given the complicated production processes. The artist speaks of Eastern philosophy as influencing his creativity, ideas of harmoniousness in particular, which most likely accounts for his masterful ability to keep opposing forces simultaneously at play.

Left: Brian Kirk, Intertwined, welded steel, powder-coated red, 38 x 24 x 12 inches. Right: Brian Kirk, Carnival, welded steel, powder coated, 38 x 10 x 10 inches.

Ann Marchand is an abstract painter from New Orleans who revels in color, relishes it too given she grew up surrounded by colorful things. Nature is the core inspiration, the artist enamored of water, sunsets, the sky and, further afield, telescope images of outer space. Forms melt, flow and combine in her paintings with an intense energy that has been likened by other writers to cosmic imagery of nebulae and far galaxies.

Marchand is a well-known artist in the Washington D.C. area and greatly experienced — she has been painting for half a century and it shows. Her paint handling is easy and intuitive, the artist frequently combining acrylic, enamel and ink on canvas, each medium applied on top of the other, sometimes wet into wet as in Argestes giving the final canvas a stained, watery appearance. I suspect she works on the floor.

Left: Anne Marchand, Strata, acrylic, Ink and enamel on canvas, 36 x 36 inches. Right: Anne Marchand, Argestes, acrylic, Ink and enamel on canvas, 36 x 36 inches.

Argestes is one of my favorite works by the artist here given it’s so luscious, fluid, dreamy. Strata has something of the same quality though the color palette is colder, or comes across that way given a preponderance of blue. Marchand is a colorist, first and foremost, letting her feelings and associated colors dictate the final composition.  

Marchand defies geometry and structure in her engrossing paintings in my opinion, though Abstractions – Anne Marchand is currently on display through November at The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) located in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, a center devoted to innovative, diverse art and science experiences. Perhaps indeed a scientific or geometric foundation lurks down there beneath the surface. 

Whatever the foundation for her thinking, themes of self-discovery via introspection, via wonder, and limitlessness predominate in her paintings. Her aim is to encourage all of us to engage with the artwork in a way that offers deeper insight into the self and our surroundings, rather than focus solely on the technicalities of the artwork.

Now celebrating 44 years in the nation’s capital, Zenith is recognized for its unique mix of contemporary art in a wide variety of media, style, and subject. The gallery provides high-quality acquisition, art consulting, commissioning, appraisal and framing services, through its gallery/salon/ sculpture garden off 16th Street at 1429 Iris St NW, WDC 20012. Zenith also curates rotating exhibits at the Eleven Sculpture Space at 1111 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, WDC 20004.

Zenith Gallery 

Primarily Abstract: Works by Brian Kirk and Anne Marchand

Through November 19, 2022

1111 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington DC 20004


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