Art Review


Emerging artist R. Scott Davis lives in New York, but as an alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, he still has ties to this area. In Chromatic Flux, now at the Cordell Taylor Gallery (2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927), Davis explores the abstract potential of photographs, adding to the current photo craze in Denver's exhibition world (see review, page 59).

The photos -- or, more properly, photo-based pieces -- in Chromatic Flux begin as shots done with a 35mm camera. To get the blurred images and lines, Davis moves the camera while the lens is open. The resulting negatives are scanned into a computer, and, using state-of-the-art digital technology, Davis produces his finished prints. The abstraction inherent in the frozen movement -- heightened by the negative state of the images and the digital process -- lends the photos a hand-done quality that's like a drawing, or even a watercolor.

In the gallery's front section, Davis explores the life of New York City. In "One2 Lower Manhattan," lighted buildings and streets are seen at night (but in reverse-negative form, so that the lights are dark and the darkness is light). Green and gray lines, created by the digital technology, flow like water across the bottom two-thirds of a pastel pinkish-orange ground.

More like a pattern painting in which linear and geometric elements are repeated is "Three5, F Train, Smith 9." It's a view of the perforated ceiling of a subway car, but because of the camera's movement, it is unrecognizable as such.

The lyrical quality of these urban-life pieces contrasts with the more somber works, which record how city life changed after 9/11. These murky and disturbing pieces, "Ash 9.11" and "Sunrise 9.14" (above), are separated from the rest of the show and are installed in the back gallery, facing the office. In them, ghostly images of ash and smoke are clearly delineated.

One unusual aspect of these photo-based pieces is that all of them are mounted on sheets of aluminum (which are completely covered by the digital prints).

Chromatic Flux closes this Saturday.

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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