There’s a handsome solo at Gildar Gallery titled Someone Called Me by My Name: New Work by William Stockman. It was put together by Simon Zalkind, who’s had a long relationship with Stockman; Zalkind also curated a show of the artist’s work for the Singer Gallery at the Mizel Center.
Stockman has had a presence in Denver’s art world for the past 25 years, give or take the occasional hiatus. His work is characterized by the unlikely coincidence of disparate representational images, which are scattered across the surfaces of his pictures. These images are inspired by photos from the mass media and from his daily life. In addition to the representations themselves, he uses abstract-related techniques such as erasures, rub-outs, runs, smears and drips.
Although he created paintings for this show, Stockman is best known for his sometimes intimate, sometimes monumental drawings, like those he showed in 2010 in the enigmatically titled Looking for the Face I Had Before the World Was Made, at MCA Denver; that was his last solo before the current one. Zalkind tells me that when he first saw this new work, he was taken aback by the stylistic leap Stockman had taken in his approach to painting.
In these new works, as gallery director Adam Gildar points out, Stockman has recognized that drawing is his strength and has used his masterful drafting skills as the anchor for his paintings. I would take this one step further and say that Stockman has abandoned his earlier, heavier approach to paintings and has instead fleshed out his drawings by adding color and painterly passages. In this way, he has bridged the gap between the two.
There’s a haunting quality to the strange imagery he embraces — like the stooped-over figure with a load of material on his back seen in “Aengus” — and that ethereality is only heightened by light-colored palettes that provide the expansive grounds on which the imagery is placed.
The results are elegant and the mood somber, which is appropriate given that the entire show is meant to memorialize Stockman’s sister, Kirsten, who died of cancer in December 2013. At the beginning of 2014, Stockman began this aesthetic salute with a series of small drawings, which are installed in the back space. It continued in 2015 with the creation of the majestic body of new paintings that fill the front.
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The impressive Stockman exhibit runs through June 5 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway. Call 303-993-4474 or go to gildargallery.com for more information.