Sketches

Brief reviews of current shows

Emilio Lobato and Martha Daniels. The solos that open the season at William Havu Gallery combine the disparate work of two of the area's best-known and well-regarded artists. On the walls is Emilio Lobato: Desde Siempre (Since Forever), which comprises the artist's signature abstractions. The title refers to Lobato's self-exploration and to the fact that he can't remember not being an artist; he feels he's been creating art "since forever." The title is also meant to salute his great-grandfathers, both of whom were weavers, with Lobato laying in patterns of wavy lines across his geometric compositions, giving them an almost folk-art quality. Installed around the gallery is Martha Daniels, made up of large-scale figural sculptures and architectonic towers. In her work, Daniels riffs off the history of ceramics, combining the unlikely pairing of Mediterranean and Asian influences. Among Daniels's many strengths are her surfaces, which look like paint even though they are glaze, and her signature shapes, which are outrageously expressive. Through October 28 at William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360. Reviewed September 21.

Eugene Yelchin. Over the past several years, Singer Gallery director Simon Zalkind has often presented exhibits highlighting the work of Jewish artists who hail from the former Soviet Union. And for these exhibits, Zalkind has turned to Mina Litinsky, director of the Sloan Gallery in LoDo, who's an acknowledged expert in the field. The current offering on the topic, Eugene Yelchin: A Thousand Casualties, features paintings by an artist who was born in Leningrad -- now St. Petersburg -- but who immigrated to the United States in the 1980s. Yelchin's unusual style, which refers to post-modernism, involves a play on traditional representation to come up with thoroughly abstract results. Zalkind wrote in the catalogue that Yelchin is inspired by artists such as Goya and Rembrandt, but there's also a big relationship to the work of Francis Bacon. And, as with Bacon's style, the figures in Yelchin's paintings seem to be melting, giving them a surrealist twist and making them downright disturbing. Through November 5 at the Singer Gallery, Mizel Center for Arts and Culture, 350 South Dahlia Street, 303-316-6360. Reviewed September 28.

Extended Remix. MCA curator and director Cydney Payton is doing hermeneutics by interpreting her own interpretations. This past summer, Payton oversaw the MCA's most ambitious offering, Decades of Influence, and for her followup, she organized Extended Remix, pairing some of the artists she chose for Decades with artists she had left out. The title, Extended Remix, refers to the musical process whereby DJs create new compositions by combining disparate material -- exactly what Payton did for this exhibit. Decades artists such as Bruce Price, Clark Richert and Kim Dickey are joined by artists who weren't part of that show, among them Paul Gillis, Mary Ehrin and Carley Warren. The work of several emerging talents, including Matthew Larson and Steve Read, is also here. Remix is a great idea, even if it isn't all that different from a typical museum change-out. With thirty artists, the MCA is filled to over-flowing, so the Gates Sculpture Triangle is serving as a museum annex in order to showcase additional pieces. Through October 29 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554.

Fantôme Afrique. After a couple of years in preparation, the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar has opened with Fantôme Afrique, a three-screen film by British artist Isaac Julien. In it, Julien focuses on the cinema culture in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a center for African film. The title is a play on L'Afrique Fantôme, a book by Michel Leiris, who was a surrealist and an ethnographer. Julien's intention is to show how Western culture has affected Africa, which is the opposite of what Leiris did in his book. The images of dancers, buildings and movies set to a soundtrack are hypnotic and lyrical. Less than twenty minutes long, it will run on a continuous loop projected onto a wall. Called the Lab for short, this place aims to showcase vanguard art in the suburbs. The Lab's director, Adam Lerner, served as master teacher in the Denver Art Museum's department of modern and contemporary art. The Lab may be found amid McDonald's and Bed, Bath & Beyonds, but Lerner sees as being between McSweeney's and Burning Man. Actually, it's above Zales. Through December 30 at the Laboratory of Art and Ideas at Belmar, 404 South Upham Street, 303-742-1520.

Maria Friberg, et al. The Robischon Gallery has gone all international on us with its new media show, Maria Friberg: Working Model, which features large-scale photos and videos by the well-known Swedish artist. All of the pieces involve images of men outfitted in suits, a Friberg signature. In the "Almost There" series, multiple images of the same businessman are set against a watery background. In the photos from the "Still Lives" series, men interact with automotive parts. In one, a guy is seen lying on top of a stack of smashed cars; in another, a man is seated inside a big truck tire. "Blown Out," one of a group of video projections also in the show, focuses on a man's head as he bobs up and down in a turbulent and foaming sea. In the Viewing Room in the back, Robischon is presenting two small shows, Bill Armstrong: Blue Spheres and Yen Lei. Armstrong, who is from New York, does work with an op-art character who plays tricks with viewers' perceptions. Chinese artist Yen Lei is represented by "Painting 14," an impressive neo-pop triptych of a jar, a target and the Buddha. Through October 28 at Robischon Gallery, 1740 Wazee Street, 303-298-7788.

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