Mark Lunning founded Open Press, a fine-art printmaker, in 1988, and since then, he's been the facility's master printer. But he's also an artist in his own right, creating prints, paintings and sculptures. All three types of work are on display in Mark Lunning: New Paintings, Prints and Sculptures at Space Gallery (765 Santa Fe Drive, 720-904-1088, www.spacegallery.org).
The work is unusual. In most of the pieces, Lunning combines abstraction with representational imagery and often incorporates collage elements, such as book pages that have been painted or printed over. Space Gallery owner Michael Burnett points out that his use of these incorporated found images is not unlike the chine collé technique seen in the monotypes — a kind of print — in which Open Press specializes.
Lunning uses various motifs, including circles, triangles and minimalist depictions of leaves. There are also little scenic views of houses, buildings or trees. These works look strange, since the recognizable elements that Lunning includes are surrounded, or even covered, by abstract passages that all but hide — or at least disguise — them. This is seen in "Passage in Blue," in which triangular shapes dominate the composition so that the viewer almost misses the house in the woods nestled into the left center of the picture.
Among my favorites are those works that juxtapose patterns of circles with lines and other marks that have a pronounced retro look, like early modernism, or what Lunning calls "twentieth-century synthesism"; this can be seen in "Urban Passage II" (pictured). The piece is a showcase of Lunning's skill as a technician: It's a zinc etching, a collograph and a monotype with chine collé, all in one.
Meanwhile, the handful of sculptures on display in this show don't even look like the work of the same artist. Interestingly, Lunning first came on the Denver art scene nearly thirty years ago with similar three-dimensional pieces, which were shown at the prestigious and long-gone Inkfish Gallery.
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The Lunning show at Space closes on December 17.