Art Review


The Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, in the Shwayder Art Building on the University of Denver's campus (2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846), is hosting an exquisite exhibit titled Ronald Davis: Recent Abstractions 2001-2002. The show, which runs through November 8, was organized by Gwen Chanzit, a professor of art history at DU and a curator in the Denver Art Museum's department of modern and contemporary art.

Davis enjoyed a measure of fame as a painter in the 1960s, but today he is known mainly to specialists in abstract art. Chanzit came up with the idea for this show a few months ago, after visiting the artist at his studio compound in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico. Davis lives and works in a series of hogans made from geometric domes that relate flawlessly to his painted constructions on view at the Myhren.

Those pieces are fascinating for several reasons, not the least of which is that they refer to post-minimalism by breaking with the flat-surface standard of painting. Although they look like paintings at first, they are actually wall sculptures -- or, at the very least, reliefs, like "Trompe Trapezoid" (above).

Davis begins with expanded PVC plastic, which he cuts and joins into elaborate shapes. After filling and finishing the shapes, he paints them with acrylic pigments. In some places, the painting gives the illusion of three-dimensionality; in others, three-dimensional spaces are painted to appear flat. Davis enhances the forms' shadowy passages by painting them darker shades of the colors used on adjacent flat areas.

In addition to these abstract constructions, the show also includes Davis's computer-generated prints. Like his painted works, they are based on an exploration of geometry.

Finding parking around DU can be a nightmare (try the visitors' lot at Asbury and Race), but once you see this magical show, you'll be glad you went to the trouble.

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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