Art Review

Artbeat

It could be said that the ILK @ Pirate space (3659 Navajo Street, 303-458-6058) is a hole in the wall within a hole in the wall -- or to put it more elegantly, an alternative space within an alternative space. Despite the limitations of a small, dingy room, more often than not this little gallery hosts noteworthy exhibitions. A good example is Square Content, the solo show currently on display that is devoted to Nicholas Silici's recent soft-edged geometric paintings.

Silici's materials include concrete or mastic laid on board; according to his artist's statement, the Denver area's construction boom provided the inspiration. The surfaces of the paintings do resemble the ubiquitous stucco walls being thrown up every day around town, but Silici transforms the stucco-like substances he employs by applying many coats of pigment, beeswax and oil that transparently entomb his panels. The results are shiny, juicy-looking squares -- like enormous pieces of hard candy.

This juicy character is easy to see in "Remnants" (above). In this painting, Silici has divided the composition into two large areas of color. On the left, he has applied a gorgeous blue, on the right, a shiny light brown. Similar straightforward abstractions with simple juxtapositions of color are seen throughout the show.

Stylistically, Silici's paintings raise issues related to minimalism, expressionism and formalism, so they are part and parcel of a contemporary national trend that has many local adherents: post-minimalism. Silici is obviously one of the most thoughtful among these artists, not just based on this recent body of work (or the fact that he went so far as to give the ILK @ Pirate space a fresh coat of paint for his show), but based on all of his efforts over the last few years. The show closes on February 18.

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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