K Contemporary and Michael Warren Solos offer different visions of contemporary painting

It’s all happening in contemporary art these days, judging by two sets of solos now at two of the city’s most notable galleries. Collectively, the four cover a lot of stylistic ground, but each of the separate visions is still believable and contemporary.

In the vast gallery before Michael Warren Contemporary, The Way of the White Clouds: new works by Meghan Wilbar features the artist’s distinctive expressionist views of the vistas she saw on her travels through Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Megane Wilbar lives in Pueblo, and this show demonstrates Michael Warren’s laudable specialty of finding and promoting Colorado artists who live outside of the Denver/Boulder corridor and aren’t as familiar to subway audiences as they should be. be.

As the title of the exhibition suggests, these paintings examine clouds. However, Wilbar does not intend to render them exactly as they appeared in the sky, but rather to think of them and the landscape below and then convey his memory on the canvases. His palette is unnatural, tending towards yellows and oranges where one might expect whites and blues; colors are also limited, rather than a free spectrum. His brushstroke is very free, with smears and passages for details. The colors and the brushstroke amplify the abstract quality of these paintings, but the essence of the landscape still stands out every time.

Click to enlarge

Paintings of Kelton Osborn: Inaccessible Spaces at Michael Warren Contemporary.

Courtesy of Michael Warren Contemporary

In the small gallery at the back is Kelton Osborn: Inaccessible Spaces, with large, mostly square paintings, stemming from color field sensitivity; they leave a completely different impression than the much more subtle Wilbars. Kelton Osbornwho is both an architect and an artist, generally creates works of architectural quality, such as the “Peel” installation at the recent state art at the Arvada Center, a bunch of small geometric solids hanging on the walls.

This new work represents a radical and surprising break with this vocabulary. The paintings include large swatches of strong colors, laid out casually and sometimes with simple designs arranged sparingly on top. The depth of field in the images has been compressed and as a result they look very flat, especially coming from someone like Osborn who likes to be three-dimensional.

Click to enlarge Untitled (Dafen 7)" and "Untitled (Dafen 3)," from Mario Zoots: Gentle Distortion.  - WES MAGYAR

Untitled (Dafen 7)” and “Untitled (Dafen 3)”, from Mario Zoots: Soft Distortion.

Wes Magyar

For another change of vision, there is the conceptual take on originality in Mario Zoots: Soft Distortionin the spacious gallery on the second floor K Contemporary. Denver Artist Mario Zoot is well known for his collages, but although these are collage-based pieces, some stray from his signature work, at least in the techniques he manipulates. Going back to his college years, Zoots’ collages relied on appropriating already existing images that he would modify in some way – cropping, altering – to turn into images. completely new. With the works in this exhibition, Zoots tackles appropriation head-on by appropriating the images. Sometimes he does this simply by scanning the original collage and then enlarging it into a digital print, but in other cases Zoots actually had a copy of the collage painted in oil on canvas by someone working in China. for a paint factory, a source he found on the Internet.

At the start of the show, Zoots displays this chain of interpretations in “Untitled (Woman with Camera)”, which appears in three interpretations. To create the main image, Zoots used an old advertisement found in which a woman is seen in three-quarter profile with a camera to one side of her face; around the edges of the subject are colored shapes and cropped photos, much like a halo. This arrangement of shapes and images appears on the collage, then on an enlargement on cardboard cut out to follow the contours of the composition and, finally, on the painting produced by the commissioning painter. There are certainly differences between the three, especially their varying sizes: the collage is the smallest, the cut enlargement the largest. But otherwise they are surprisingly similar despite the different ways they were made.

Click to enlarge Installation view of Mario Zoots: Gentle Distortion at K Contemporary.  - WES MAGYAR

Installation view of Mario Zoots: Soft Distortion at K Contemporary.

Wes Magyar

In other sections of the exhibition, these contracted paintings are seen without their related collages or enlargements, but they still function as objects emitting their own kind of charisma. Dense compositions “Untitled (Dafen 3)” and “Untitled (Dafen 7)”, which hang side by side, look wonderfully luxurious. overseas. Other notables are two monumental UV prints based on collages that have been laid on birch panels leaning against opposite walls, creating a kind of sacred space. Even though they are simple compositions, with only a few elements in each, they have a pronounced monumental character effect, they are my favorite pieces.

Click to enlarge Installation by Michael Dowling in the project space of K Contemporary.  - COURTESY OF K CONTEMPORARY

Installation by Michael Dowling in the project space of K Contemporary.

Courtesy of K Contemporary

The project space at K Contemporary, also on the second floor, was packed to the limit with dozens of works from Denver Michael Dowling. With these painted books and sculptures, he created an aesthetic vision that resembles a mixture of Dutch masters and scribbles, and the resulting line is very elegant.

In the center of the room are three spiers made of standing beams, topped with heads modeled in clay that Dowling intends to cast in bronze or have 3D printed in plastic. The facial features are comic – or, more precisely, grotesque. Around the heads are rectangular paintings of recognizable subjects, including people and birds. The paintings are done on hardcover books that have been opened in the center, the loose pages frozen with a thick layer of white acrylic. Then, with a very fluid stroke, Dowling inserts the representations in charcoal. The open books were hung on the wall haphazardly, and very effectively, in a cluttered, free-form arrangement, functioning as bas-reliefs. More than that of most contemporary artists, Dowling’s approach has an association with traditional art, but he bends it to his will, using books instead of canvas, and in the process draws him into the contemporary domain.

At the start of the 21st century, the order of 20th century modernism is long gone, with artists now working in whatever styles they please, as these four solos demonstrate so well.

Meghan Wilbar and Kelton Osbornthrough May 25, Michael Warren Contemporary, 760 Santa Fe Drive, 303-635-6255, michaelwarrencontemporary.com.

Mario Zoots: Soft Distortion, with Michael Dowling, through June 1 at K Contemporary, 1412 Wazee Street, 303-590-9800, kcontemporaryart.com.

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