William Woodward: Master Drawings 1958-2018
Mark Jenkins for The Washington Post (5 April 2019)
William Woodward is not literally an Old Master, of course. But the local painter has the range and technique of one, and “Master Drawings 1958-2018” is a fitting title for his show at Addison/Ripley Fine Art. The drawings (and a few watercolors) are loosely rendered yet immaculate, whether they’re evocative little sketches of France and Spain or detailed studies for his large “Seven Deadly Sins” paintings.
The latter set, exhibited at the American University Museum in 2017, depicts human weakness as a sort of circus, with lots of mocking simians. Studies for three of the seven paintings are here, along with views of actual circuses that prove Woodward is just as good at elephants as monkeys. Among the simpler subjects are European cafes, a staircase that juts into the Adriatic and children playing hide-and-seek in a classical garden.
The artist employs just about everything that can produce a line, including pencil, charcoal, conte crayon, pen and ink, and razor blades. Sometimes he fills space with ink or paint washes or adds highlights with pastel or white crayon. Woodward’s paintings have impressive depth and richness, but this selection demonstrates that he can conjure worlds with more limited means.
William Woodward: Master Drawings 1958-2018 through April 13 at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW.