Artbeat

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

Space Gallery (765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088) usually has a group show, but right now there's a group of shows -- a pair of solos up front and a painting quartet in the back.

First up is LuCong: Figurative Realism, which is hung in the north half of Space. The show is made up of large paintings of nude or semi-nude women paired with smaller charcoal-and-ink drawings on the same theme. LuCong, one of the best-known artists in Space's stable, is a representational painter with one foot in the traditional and the other in contemporary. "Tasha," for example, seems like a traditional study of a beautiful Asian woman with full, pouty lips. Faces in general and lips in particular are of special interest to LuCong, and he typically makes them a focal point of his paintings. The artist also wants some contemporary credibility -- such as he got last year with his somewhat offensive self-portrait as a suicide bomber exhibited at the Art Students League -- and in this show, "Girls" is his latest entry. The painting depicts two bug-eyed, doll-faced female nudes entwined in one another with their weird entangled poses used to show off LuCong's mastery of foreshortening. Somewhere between "Tasha" and "Girls" is "Julie M" (above), which is naturalistic but also in line with contemporary concerns, since she's rendered upside down.

Across from the LuCongs, in the south half of the gallery, is Conor King: Rural Family Documentary, a show of candid black-and-white photographs of children King met while vacationing in Mexico. The most interesting thing about these character studies is King's use of pinpoint focus, which puts most of the picture out of focus while allowing the in-focus figure to stand out all the more.

In the back space is an untitled group show made up of abstract paintings by Jared McKenzie, Lewis McInnis, Graeme Duncan and, last but not least, Michael Burnett, Space's irascible Scottish-born owner and gallery director. There's plenty to see at Space -- LuCong, Conor King and the group show -- and a few weeks yet to see them; all three are set to come down on September 2.

 
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