Mike McClung, the director of Michael Warren Contemporary, has put together two interesting solos that are midway through their runs. The shows are extremely compatible, as both focus on artists who work with geometric compositions, though each does so in a thoroughly individual way.
In the large set of spaces up front is the impressive After the Pale King: Andrew Roberts-Gray. Roberts-Gray has been exhibiting in Colorado for twenty years, but mostly in galleries in mountain towns such as Aspen, Vail and Glenwood Springs, where he lives. That kept him off the Front Range art radar until just a couple of years ago, when he first exhibited his work in the Denver area.
It’s hard to believe that these sometimes monumental post-minimal wall constructions — a few of which incorporate freestanding sculptural elements — are coming out of the landscape tradition, but they are. In some, like the magnificent “Pale King,” the ghostly (and unreadable) landscape imagery appears as pentimenti from beneath the light-colored surfaces of the two main panels. The piece comprises these panels, together nearly fourteen feet across, plus a separate angled element in red, set atop the intersection of the two. There is also a freestanding sculptural element made up of a vertically oriented rectangular solid with a three-dimensional trapezoid placed on top; it is dead white and plays off the white-over-gray of the panels.
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Just as fabulous are “Drift” and “Reverie,” both monumental in size, and some of the smaller pieces, such as “The Sandman.”
Roberts-Gray calls these recent works — all were created last year — “component pieces,” referring not only to the fact that they are made up of different parts, but also to the way in which he creates them. He starts by making square, rectangular and triangular panels, then paints or finishes them as he pleases. Next, he assembles them freely until he arrives at a combination that he likes, at which point he joins the various parts to create a finished work of art.
The other solo, Telemetry: Artwork by Matthew Shlian, is installed in the back gallery. Shlian, who lives in Michigan, is a paper engineer and has worked for commercial enterprises that employ folded paper in their projects, like punched-out and folded-paper holiday decorations. Using the same techniques that are applied to those — digital cutting and scoring of sheets of heavy paper — he creates shallow sculptural reliefs of repeated geometric forms. The results are elegant and intriguing.
These two solos at Michael Warren, 760 Santa Fe Drive, close on December 19. For more information, call 303-667-2447 or go to michaelwarrencontemporary.com.