Art Review

Artbeat

Rule Gallery (111 Broadway, 303-777-9473) is currently putting on a pair of back-to-back solos, both of which are made up of sophisticated abstract paintings. In the front is Udo Nger: Light as a Material; in the back is Maggie Michael: (T)rain.

The Nöger paintings are more modest examples of what the artist has on view in WHITE OUT, at Denver's Museum of Contemporary Art (see review, page 40). The paintings in both shows are mostly white, with three translucent layers of canvas to increase the depth of the surfaces and grab the optimum amount of ambient light.

That the Rule exhibit coincides with Nöger's appearance at the MCA was no coincidence, and it has gotten a lot of tongues -- and fingers -- wagging. The simultaneous Nöger fetes have struck many as an unseemly collusion between the gallery and the museum.

Despite appearances to the contrary, I don't think this is the case. I think that gallery director Robin Rule is doing what she's always done: following in the footsteps of her longtime mentor, MCA director Cydney Payton. As proof in this specific case, it was only after Payton booked Nöger for WHITE OUT that Rule approached him to do a show at her gallery. (And when Payton postponed the MCA's show, Rule postponed hers, too.)

In the tiny back spaces at Rule are some good-looking abstracts that make up its second show, Maggie Michael: (T)rain. The Michael paintings, which are post-abstract expressionist, take on a retro palette suggestive of the 1970s. But there are some '80s devices employed, too, such as implied representational imagery around the edges.

Michael's bag of artistic tricks runs the gamut of visual effects, from delicate ink drawings to thick blobs of poured latex plastic. The best of the group, including "Travel" (above), are very good, and though I thought the works on paper fell short, I really liked this show overall.

The handsome Nöger and Michael solos run though June 18 at Rule.

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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