Ania Gola-Kumor is one of Colorado’s best abstract painters, but she is inexplicably also one of the most underappreciated. Her latest efforts are on view in Moving Paint II: Ania Gola-Kumor, a handsome and tight solo now at the Sandra Phillips Gallery. All of the paintings in this show were completed this past summer and fall, though a handful are earlier works that Gola-Kumor wasn’t happy with, and so, in her words, she “fixed them.”
Originally from Poland, Gola-Kumor has had a long career in Colorado. In 1982, she essentially defected from her native land, then still under Soviet influence. That move was facilitated by John Sorbie, the late and legendary poster designer who taught at Colorado State University. Gola-Kumor had just graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw in 1980, and she picked up where she’d left off as soon as she arrived in Colorado.
These new pieces build on the abstract language that Gola-Kumor has been developing for the past thirty years, but she’s tweaked it subtly, making everything look fresh and different. Long interested in being a colorist, Gola-Kumor has brought new shades to the visual conversation. Although the Sandra Phillips show has not been installed to lay out the way these paintings developed out of one another, it’s possible to follow Gola-Kumor’s progression anyway, since she’s numbered them.
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The first two paintings seem to be centering exercises for her colorist tendencies: “#1 Untitled” is almost colorless, while “#2 Untitled” is covered in dark and murky shades. In “#3 Untitled,” Gola-Kumor’s palette takes off with a lot of pink, a tint she’s only rarely used, accented by a super-toned-up yellow. (Other paintings include orange and a greenish silver.) The formal elements of “#3 Untitled” feature a dizzying array of automatist marks, which the artist explains come from her memories of things she’s seen that she translates onto the canvases through intuitive markings.
Several of the new paintings are large horizontals, such as “#6 Untitled,” which is covered with flowing arching marks laid laterally across the painting and on top of one another, so that the resulting abstraction is somehow evocative of a view of the mountains. Despite the density of the layers and the apparent frenzy of brushwork necessary to make all those shapes, Gola-Kumor says she finds these would-be vistas to be ultimately relaxing in appearance, and it’s easy to see what she means.
The Gola-Kumor solo runs through December 2 at Sandra Phillips Gallery, 47 West 11th Avenue. For hours and other information, call 303-931-2991 or go to thesandraphillipsgallery.com.