There are so many talented representational painters in the area, it's a wonder that no curator of some local museum or art center has thought to put a group of them together in a show. The next best thing might be a duet, which is essentially what's shoehorned into the front space at + Gallery (2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927). Jenny Morgan: First Person occupies two of the walls, and Peter Illig: Future Tense the other two.
Morgan graduated a couple of years ago from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, where she was a protegé of Irene Delka McCray. Although it's possible to see McCray's influence in Morgan's work, no one would confuse the two. Morgan is forging her own distinctive path with these realistic self-portraits, but her emphatic use of painted depictions of fabrics lends them some attributes of abstracts. This aspect is underlined by the way Morgan crops the figures so that they run off the edges of the canvas, with only parts like arms, legs and torsos appearing.
Illig, who teaches art at Heritage High School, has exhibited his work around the area for the past ten years. This is his first outing at +, and the small solo comprises only four pieces: a drawing and three paintings.
Illig's style is decidedly neo-pop, and there's definitely a relationship between his work and that of pioneering pop artist James Rosenquist. But there's also a gritty, noir-ish quality to Illig's work that recalls the covers of pulp novels. (Come to think of it, Rosenquist plumbed those same depths for inspiration.) Illig typically cuts up the picture, allowing different scenes in different scales to collide in the same piece, but sometimes, as with "The End of Language" (above), an oil on canvas, he uses a single, bizarre scenario.
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The conjoined-twin exhibits Jenny Morgan and Peter Illig, are set to run through June 25 at + Gallery.