Art Review

Art Beat

The Carol Keller Gallery is extending Dan Ragland: Recent Work through December 18, so there's still a couple of days to catch this intriguing photography show.

Ragland, who lives and works in Denver, specializes in edgy and disturbing pictures, even when his subject is a vase filled with flowers. But when he includes a figure in his photos, the effect is notably heightened.

In "Mobey's Stolen Sky" (above), a blurry male nude stands in front of what must be a painted landscape background. The color, a yellowed black and white, has a decayed look. Ragland accomplishes this by toning his photos after they have been printed. Even more unnerving than usual are the photos from the "Opera" series. These images do not relate to opera per se, but they are operatic in their dramatic content. Ragland has said they are "over the top," like opera is. In the photos from this series, two men, one with a shaved head, are seen in close-up shots and are either fighting or passionately embracing.

Gallery director Carol Keller describes Ragland's process as beginning with a Polaroid photo, which is then digitized, printed and finally custom-finished with hand-applied tints and solvents. The result is quite stunning and provides the perfect foil for Ragland's in-your-face and somewhat erotic imagery.

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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