Meet Me in San Luis

The Emilio Lobato solo at Havu is a real knockout.

The show at Havu includes three related but different kinds of work, all of them perfectly conceived and executed. Gallery director Bill Havu has installed the show in a series of spaces just inside the front door, but the exhibit is somewhat different now than when it opened last month. That's because the gallery has sold more than a dozen pieces, and some of the buyers insisted on taking them home immediately. (This is a new and unwanted trend in art shows. Traditionally, important exhibits were kept intact until they closed. It's hard to blame the dealers, though, because all of them are hungry for sales, and then there's that pesky dictum about the customer always being right.)

In the entry and in the space beyond are large canvases combining black color fields, ecru fields made from collaged book pages, painted circles and, in some cases, painted lines and bars. These large paintings seem to combine a number of related abstract currents, from minimalism to geometric abstraction.

In "Trinidad," Lobato divides the canvas into two clearly distinguishable parts. Across the top is a field of black that is rich and varied, the result of many coats of black oil glazes. Across the bottom, he has lined up rows of book pages. On top of the pages are three painted circles that relate to the painting's title, which in English translates as "Trinity." In addition, Lobato used three rows of pages made up of eleven sheets each. This adds up to 33, which happened to be Christ's age when he was crucified. (Wow, these minimalist expressions really are about Lobato's background.)

"Trinidad," by Emilio Lobato, collage and oil on canvas.
"Trinidad," by Emilio Lobato, collage and oil on canvas.
"En el Medio," collage and oil on panel.
"En el Medio," collage and oil on panel.

Details

Through April 14, 303-893-2360
William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street

Most of the large paintings are almost entirely black, set off by the yellowed book pages, themselves covered with black type. But a few of the most recently completed paintings also include a dark red. "My work used to be very colorful, but for the last several years I've mostly used black," Lobato says. "Lately, though, I've been introducing color again, in particular red and green."

This renewed interest in color is easy to see in the second and third kinds of work in the show, the many exquisite small oils with collage and the fabulous monotypes with chine colle. They have been hung on the north wall of the front space and in the separate space at the bottom of the staircase.

These works, on panel and paper, are considerably more complicated than the larger pieces in both palette and composition. For example, "En el Medio," one of several strong oil-and-collage panels, is dense with compositional elements. Pieces like this may be predictors of some future directions for Lobato's more monumental works on canvas.

Despite the dense formal arrangements, Lobato still limits himself to simple elements like rectangles, circles and lines -- and, of course, found text. For these more intimate pieces, Lobato doesn't use full pages, but cut-up or torn-up fragments. And the predominating color fields are created not from black glazes or the ecru book pages, but from the off-white ivory color of the paper or panel on which the paintings or prints have been done.

Lobato's debt to Chenoweth is clearly apparent in this show. Like her, he has successfully blurred the distinctions between various abstract styles. And, like his former teacher, Lobato's well of creativity is apparently bottomless.


The Lobato show is one of five solos now crowding the William Havu Gallery. Lobato shares the main floor with a display devoted to paintings by Gregory Gioiosa and a show dedicated to prints by Mark Lunning. And scattered about is a fourth solo made up of stone sculptures by Jerry Wingren. As if that weren't enough, upstairs are multimedia pieces by Lauri Lynnxe Murphy (see Artbeat).

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