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This idea of having viewers feel as though they are part of an artwork is key to Heinrich's concept in Embrace!. No artist has realized that goal more than Zhong Biao. Also in the Anschutz, Biao has had the walls painted black. To the left is a multi-panel conceptual realist painting that's extended on one end by video projections and on the other by a mirror that covers an entire adjacent wall. As viewers look in the mirror, they place themselves in the painting's reflection. It is a tour de force.
On the other side of the Stockholder is Christian Hahn's "Upside Down," a wall painting depicting fanciful architectural fragments juxtaposed with a selection of his whimsical magic-realist paintings.
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Filling the Martin and McCormick Gallery, also on the second level, is a digital projection piece by Charles Sandison called "Chamber" in which words and symbols play across the walls according to a computer program. On the atrium's turnaround is Tobias Rehberger's untitled installation of multi-hued bungee cords that's like a flexible painting of stripes that viewers can make their way through. Beyond is "Last to Know," cut vinyl appliqués of knives by Matthew Brannon. It's on the tilted wall on the way to level three, where Dasha Shishkin's "Dying Christ Rushed to the Hospital..." covers the walls and ceiling of a cave-like gallery just off the stairs. Though very expressive and clearly a lot of work, the Shishkin left me cold.
"Hot" would be a better adjective to describe the lined-up models for John McEnroe's "The Bathers," in the niche facing the atrium, and for the full-blown piece itself, which is hanging from the ceiling and can be seen from both the third and fourth levels. In form, the elements are organic pendulums in dark cast resin that evoke female forms, as the title suggests. McEnroe told Heinrich that he was inspired by Renoir, but they look more like they've been sourced from Picasso.
On the fourth level, in the Fuse Box, is Timothy Weaver + eMad's "39º 44' 11" N x 104º 59' 21" W," a projection piece. Looking at climate change, sunspots and a locust invasion in Colorado, Weaver and his student-collaborators have created a multi-image work that grows as viewers go deeper into the space.
In the African Gallery is "Rain Has No Father?" by El Anatsui. This luxurious metal curtain has been fabricated using flattened liquor bottle tops, giving it a highbrow/lowbrow character. In the dramatic prow gallery, Kristin Baker's powerful "Dihedral Barrage" takes over. It's a freestanding sculpture that from one angle looks like an abstract-expressionist painting. In a side gallery, Nicola López has covered the walls and ceiling with lines made of printed wires that resemble roots or branches.
The last piece is "As to Be in Plain Sight," by Lawrence Weiner, painted high on the wall. Weiner is a pioneer of the text-as-art movement, and his piece here is in his signature style.
An idea that underlies Embrace!, and one that is implied by the title, is having the artists respond directly to the unorthodox interior spaces of the Hamilton, thus making them more user-friendly. In a few cases — Grosse's and Dula's wall paintings, for example — this process succeeded, which is quite an accomplishment.
And though there's more work to be done to fix that problematic interior, I've got a feeling Heinrich's just the one to do it.
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