Now Showing

Capsule reviews of current exhibits

Susanne Kühn. Using pictures to tell stories was definitely a no-no in classic modern art and for the first three quarters of the twentieth century. That changed in the 1980s and '90s, when narrative painting made a huge comeback in contemporary art circles. One of the vanguards of this movement was the New Leipzig School from Germany. The artist featured in the eponymous solo Susanne Kühn, at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, is too young to be part of that movement, but her work is definitely the heir to it. Cydney Payton, director and chief curator of the MCA, put the exhibit together and has written an essay for the catalogue. Kühn's approach to picture-making is complex, with a decidedly photographic quality to her renderings. But the colors are strangely toned-up, which denies any sense of photographic realism. Kuhn also uses subtly different points of view and therefore employs differing perspectives, which also works against the idea of strictly representing external reality. But these disconnections meld as much as they collide with one another. Through September 21 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554, ww.mcadenver.org. Reviewed June 19.

Patrick Porter. East Colfax Avenue is definitely on the way up. From downtown to Monaco Parkway, storefronts are being spiffed up, shops and restaurants are opening, and people are starting to fill the formerly seedy sidewalks. Several hipster businesses are now mixed in with the dry cleaning plant and the pet groomer, including Ism Gallery. The place is a cross between a commercial operation and an alternative space. It was opened four years ago by budding artist Craig Thomas, who also uses it as his studio. The current show, Patrick Porter: Soopermart Grand Opening, is very uneven, but there are some pieces that really hit their marks. Porter, who grew up in Bailey, is a recognized musician with a number of CDs to his credit, and a published poet with several volumes to his name. And although he's long been interested in painting, this is only his second solo. Porter's paintings have a manic, expressionist character, as though a child had done them in the midst of a headbanging tantrum. Through July 5 at Ism, 3229 East Colfax Avenue, 303-322-6460, www.ismgalleryart.com. Reviewed May 29.

Yu-Cheng Chou. On view in the Lu and Chris Law New Media Gallery on the first floor of the Museum of Contemporary Art is a video installation that represents this Chinese-born, Paris-based artist's first-ever museum show in America. Director Cydney Payton was an early proponent of the new Chinese art, and it was the MCA that hosted the area's first major show on the topic several years ago. Yu-Cheng's conceptual work in video and digital printing conveys the appeal of Chinese art because it's based on a hybrid of Eastern and Western sensibilities. In assembling and organizing Yu-Cheng Chou, Payton combated video's greatest shortcoming — that it is often boring — by taking a more-is-more approach to the installation, in which a lot is going on at the same time. The artist embraces a wide range of approaches, with some pieces referencing classic Chinese art and others coming out of Japanese-derived animation. But regardless of his sources, all have been created in an international context. Yu-Cheng Chou is a nice little show, and even if you're indifferent to video, it's still worth seeing. Through July 6 at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554. Reviewed March 6.

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