Art Review

Review: Creepy Yet Elegant Works on View at Robischon Gallery

The three solos currently on display at Robischon Gallery share a creepy yet elegant mood — like the feeling of walking through a decrepit mansion — and it strikes me that the atmosphere is a perfect fit for this time of year.

Filling the initial set of galleries is Kahn + Selesnick: Dreams of the Drowning World, comprised of haunting color photo enlargements by the artist team of Nicholas Kahn and Richard Selesnick. For years, these New York artists have recorded the directed activities of an imaginary theater troupe that they’ve invented.

In these recent works, the troupe’s members are depicted partly submerged in ponds; the surfaces of the ponds are covered with flowers, leaves and even snakes. They make the disturbing suggestion of death, but that has been smartly counterbalanced by the luxuriously complex visual effects.

In the adjacent spaces is the ambitious Kim Dickey: Claustrum (Cloister), populated by the artist’s parodies of topiary. Some of these pieces suggest trimmed boxwood hedges, an illusion enhanced by the fact that they are covered with green-colored ceramic quatrefoils aping the look of leaves. Dickey not only credits hedges for inspiring her, but also acknowledges the influence of the ’60s minimalist aesthetic of Robert Morris. This combination pushes her work beyond minimalism and into the realm of post-minimalism.

These pieces are formally simple, but there are other kinds of sculptures here that are more complex in shape: her leafy animals. Some have been glazed green like the “hedges,” but many more are done in a thick white glaze; the lineup, displayed on plinths, literally took my breath away. There’s a decidedly surrealistic character to Dickey’s depictions, as seen in “Quick Cony (Timeliness),” which is a freaky rendition of a rabbit.

Lastly, in the large back gallery, is William Lamson: In the Roaring Garden, which is anchored by a remarkable video projection produced with a tent-shaped camera obscura that floats on a lake, and also including a photo of the contraption on the water.

Lamson’s floating tent is a model of Thoreau’s one-room cabin, complete with furnishings. With a video camera inside, Lamson records the images received through an opening in the camera obscura — upside down and in color, as is the nature of the device — as they are projected onto the walls and furniture. The results are hypnotic.

This fall has been crowded with art attractions, so I only got around to these worthy shows at Robischon right before they all close — which is this Saturday, November 7. The gallery is at 1740 Wazee Street; call 303-298-7788 or go to for more information.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Paglia is an art historian and writer whose columns have appeared in Westword since 1995; his essays on the visual arts have also been published in national periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He taught art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
Contact: Michael Paglia