Artbeat

Brief sketches of what's happening in the Denver art scene.

A group of paintings by Warren Kelly have been brought together in a marvelous little show called panoramic: h. warren kelly, now on display in the associates' space at Pirate (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058).

Kelly, who's lived in Denver for the last of couple years, is from Taos, and it's easy to see in his work the influence of artists from that famous art-colony town, especially Marsden Hartley and Arthur Dove. Nonetheless, Kelly's style is clearly his own.

The exhibit is made up of landscape-based abstractions -- some of them drop-dead gorgeous, most set in Denver. "They're regional, because I believe it's important to be where you are," says Kelly, who adds, "I don't work from aesthetic principles, but the paintings are not simply landscapes, either. They're culturally specific, and I believe our Western culture in Colorado and New Mexico is important."

The first painting viewers see as they enter the space is the incredibly eye-catching "Confluence Park Panorama," and, man, is it stunning. The painting (which has already been sold, as have many of the others) is a diptych that renders the newly familiar Platte Valley scene by way of scribbles that have been flawlessly arranged against a bare, off-white gesso ground. This painting obviously served as the sketch for "Confluence Park Panorama II" (detail above), another diptych.

In addition to the horizontal diptychs, Kelly has done two large vertical landscape paintings. By distorting their horizon lines into a curve, he takes these pieces outside the landscape realm altogether.

One noteworthy feature of Kelly's paintings is his flawless mixing of colors -- some dark and subtle, others toned up to the nearly garish. Also notable is the artist's technique, which appears to be based on the quick, slashing brush stroke. Last but not least is his minimal-without-being-minimalist style.

As seen in this show, Kelly's use of the local landscape as a launching point for abstraction is something that really works -- at least in his talented hands. But like all good things, this show must come to an end: panoramic closes on Sunday.

 
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