Art Review


The many spaces on the ground floor at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art (1275 19th Street, 303-298-7554) are dedicated to an expansive survey of contemporary Chinese photography. But on the mezzanine is a quiet solo, Hidden Images, dedicated to recent compositions by a major contemporary Czech artist, Adéla Matasová. The show is made up of a handful of works, including a group of conceptual installations that reconcile minimalism to movement.

Matasová was born in Prague in 1940 and educated at its Academy of Fine Arts. She is currently a professor of alternative techniques at Prague's Academy of Applied Arts, and her installations and computer-altered photographs have been exhibited throughout Europe and the United States. She frequently travels to the United States; in fact, she came to Denver to install this show and give a presentation -- open to MCA members only -- about her aesthetic philosophies.

The most famous of Matasová's "Hidden Images" series is not displayed at the MCA. That piece is a large wall panel covered with small mirrored squares that rise off the surface as a hidden mechanized pointer passes underneath them. As the mirrors move, the reflected images change continuously.

In three of the works in this show, "Hidden Images #1," "Hidden Images #2" and "Hidden Images #5" (above), the same concept of changing surfaces and changing imagery is illustrated, albeit more subtly. Instead of mirrors, Matasová stretched silver-colored elastic fabrics over large rectangular frameworks. Hidden behind the stretched fabric are mechanical features that push forms out from the back in places. This action creates shifting shadow patterns. These pieces are gorgeous -- and extremely smart, too.

The mezzanine at the MCA is ordinarily used as a spot for overflow from the shows downstairs instead of as a separate exhibition venue, as it's now employed for Hidden Images. I'd like to encourage the museum to always do a different show on the mezzanine.

Adéla Matasová's captivating and provocative Hidden Images at Denver's MCA closes on May 9.

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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