I had also somehow missed — or forgotten — the marvelous compositions made of hard materials, some combined with paper. There are the pieces from the "Cuba" series from 2000 and the slightly later vertical diptych "Ni Sal, Ni Pimiento/Not Salt, Not Pepper," made of rectangles of cut-up book covers from 2002 — all tremendous. The essentially rigorous horizontal/vertical orientation of the rectilinear forms in the diptych have their obvious outcome in the striped paintings from 2007 that simultaneously recall Hispanic weavings and post-painterly abstraction.

These striped paintings lead directly to the work of 2009, where the show ends. Here Lobato has added additional shapes — notably, circles that he combines with stripes and other lines and forms, and with diagonal lines cutting across the horizontal/vertical organization of the backgrounds. All sport dark and rich palettes.

Lobato's story picks up closer to home with Casi, Casi/Bit by Bit at the William Havu Gallery in Denver. This impressive complement to the retrospective includes pieces Lobato has created since 2010. And they reveal that the artist has made yet another change in his aesthetic while remaining on the same path he started out on in the '80s.

"La Medida de un Hombre/The Measure of a Man," by Emilio Lobato, mixed media.
"La Medida de un Hombre/The Measure of a Man," by Emilio Lobato, mixed media.

Details

Through May 15, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, 30 West Dale Street, Colorado Springs, 719-634-5581, www.csfineartscenter.org.Through April 9, William Havu Gallery, 1040 Cherokee Street, 303-893-2360, www.williamhavugallery.com.

Viewers accustomed to the dark palettes of a few years ago may be surprised by the light ones that predominate at Havu, but as we learned at the retrospective, Lobato has gone back and forth between dark and light color schemes.

Also interesting is that Lobato has revealed that the act of sifting through his past pieces for the retrospective had a major effect on his current work. In fact, some of the pieces at Havu are a direct outgrowth of that, including "Vacación/Vacation," in which three rows of circles are placed over an arrangement of found materials, oil paint and collage elements. Also harking back to the earlier work is "Algo Familiar/Something Familiar," a constructivist puzzle of geometric shapes with stripes running through it and lines of circles dividing up the picture plane.

The most surprising pieces in Casi, Casi are the combine-paintings and their preparatory studies, in which Lobato has used bits of wood, cut-up book covers and even pencils and paintbrushes in his compositions. "La Torre de Babel/The Tower of Babel" is an incredible hybrid of painting and sculpture, its irregular shape playing against the white wall and thus annexing it so that it serves as an ad hoc ground. Along the same lines is the show-stopping "La Medida de un Hombre/The Measure of a Man." In this mixed-media piece, Lobato brings together a raft of his earlier devices, including the book pages, black bars, cut book covers, grids and circles, with the novel result coming out looking both totally new and riffing off innumerable precedents that make it a signature Lobato.

Take my advice: Do not miss this stunning double dose of significant works by a living master of Colorado abstraction.

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