In the galleries: An artist’s past, present and future

The oldest painting in “Realism Transformed: John Winslow’s Wild New World” is a portrait of three children. It was executed in a neo-classical style in 1973, the year of the D.C. artist’s first local solo show. The picture is included in this American University Art Museum retrospective not to demonstrate what the veteran painter does, but what he can do. Of course, the more recent canvases also display Winslow’s formidable abilities. But the directness of the early work has been supplanted by a multifaceted approach.

Acknowledging the theatricality of traditional studio painting, Winslow stages his paintings as scenes on sets, often seen from dramatically elevated vantage points. Since the pictures are performances of a sort, they may include actors, dancers and technicians. Figures from art history also can appear, and self-portraits are common. To convey the act of painting, and the thinking of the painter, Winslow incorporates spectral figures,

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