Art Review

Bryan Andrews Explores Myths and Folk Tales With Abstract Sculptures

A folk tale, at the cozy Mai Wyn Fine Art, is a solo exhibit concerning artist Bryan Andrews’s longtime interest in examining myths. He does so here with simple and rugged abstract sculptures, as well as with paintings and prints.

The show functions as an installation, though it is, in fact, a series of separate but related pieces. The unified visual effect has been achieved because the disparate elements that make up a folk tale have been carefully arranged so that they interrelate. For Andrews, these pieces are meant to establish the basis of a skeletal narrative that he wants viewers to explore and complete. He does this by providing the elements, the characters and the setting — a metaphorical forest — for the DIY tales.

In studying folklore, especially that of northern Europe, Andrews noticed that most tales take place in the forest, often deep in the forest. To establish this setting, he did some geometric wall painting that minimally suggests trees via triangles of color.
Andrews begins with “The Wayfaring Stranger,” a sculpture meant to represent a ceremonial courier who is bringing the tale to the figurative forest. This large wooden sculpture features a shape vaguely evocative of a boat with triangular shapes mounted on top, which — like the ones in the wall painting — read as evergreen trees. In the sculpture, however, these triangles are three-dimensional.

At the front, there’s a crude profile of a man with simplified renditions of eyes. The same type of simplified eye shapes adorn a large vertical spire, “Colossus in Waiting” (pictured); this is the culmination of the show for Andrews, as it is the imaginary place where the tale has been planted. The spire is surmounted by a cluster of those conventionalized triangular trees.

Looking on from one side of these two monumental constructions are three “Watcher” busts made of found wooden molds with boxes on top that are pierced with perfunctory facial features. Opposite them, hanging in a line across the wall, are a set of block prints with collage elements that symbolize the eight mythic archetypal characters that Andrews means for viewers to use as they imagine their own tales inspired by the show.

This handsome exhibit marks the artist’s re-entry into the local scene after a long hiatus: It’s been seven years since Andrews was the subject of a solo.

A folk tale closes April 11 at Mai Wyn Fine Art, 744 Santa Fe Drive. To find out more, call 303-893-4182 or go to     

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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

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