Art Review

Chris Richter's post-minimal paintings at Walker Fine Art

While checking out the scene in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this past March, Bobbi Walker, director of Walker Fine Art, realized that her planned June slot had come apart and that she needed to come up with somebody quickly to fill the position. While she was looking, she came across the work of painter Chris Richter and instantly offered him a show. The result is Chris Richter: Revealed, made up of the artist's beautiful post-minimal field paintings.

Richter was born, raised and educated in the fine arts in Texas, but around a decade ago he moved to Santa Fe. In these oil-on-panel abstractions, Richter, who has long been influenced by the landscape, is attempting to refer to nature without pictorial clues, even in the palette, that would tip off the viewer to this fact, since the resulting paintings are purely non-objective. He begins by building up layers of different colored paints, and then, after they've dried, sands the surfaces until he gets the vaporous pictorial elements he's aiming for. The paintings have a contemplative mood, though conceptually they mark a collision between the minimalist monochrome aesthetic and the expressionist forms that emerge after sanding. Some of them — like "Catalina II" (pictured) — have a definite minimalist-Monet character to them.

As is the custom at Walker, the back space is given over to three concentrated solos dedicated to artists associated with the gallery. The first of these features scorched-wood wall sculptures by Munson Hunt, which really relate well to the Richters in that they also abstractly refer to nature in a minimal way. The other two small single-artist offerings — one given over to Sabin Aell, the other to Zelda Zinn — create their own resonance and could be seen as a duet.

The Aell presentation is made up of small installations in which photo-based images have been adhered to geometric shapes made of aluminum. These aluminum wedges rise off the wall; some have elements applied directly to the wall behind them. Zinn produces photo-based images that have been drained digitally of many of their details. As a result, much of the picture planes of the photos have been reduced to a linear, skeletal composition, which makes them look like drawings.

The Richter show and the three ancillary features run through July 19 at Walker Fine Art, 300 West 11th Avenue, #A. For additional information, call 303-355-8955 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