There are basically two parallel art worlds out there: the contemporary scene and the traditional one. Some artists, however, are able to work in both realms at once, like the painter being feted in the impressive Daniel Sprick: The Living and the Dead at Gallery 1261 (1261 Delaware Street, 303-571-1261, www.gallery1261.com).
Sprick, who has lived in Colorado off and on for decades, is one of the most accomplished and well-regarded representational painters in the country. This explains why a small solo of his work organized by Ann Daley was one of a handful of displays presented when the Denver Art Museum's Hamilton Building opened two years ago.
The artist's hand-to-eye coordination is staggering, as proven by the mostly large, super-realistic paintings that fill the spacious Gallery 1261. Sprick is so adept at accurately recording the details of external reality and reproducing them with remarkably smooth and seamless surfaces that it's hard to believe his paintings aren't photos.
The show is made up of female nudes, still-life scenes and portraits — including a few of Sprick himself, such as "Self Portrait With Skeleton" (pictured). Sprick is extremely good with skin tones, as seen in the portraits and nude studies, and is even better at recording atmospheric space, as shown off in the still-life compositions.
Several of these paintings incorporate bones and full skeletons. Sprick says he added the skeleton to his self-portrait after he had initially felt that he'd finished it, explaining that he'd been inspired to do so after looking at the work of nineteenth-century German artist Lovis Corinth, who often used skeletal figures in his pictures. Sprick has long had a fascination with these mortal remains, and they give added meaning to the exhibit's subtitle, The Living and the Dead.
The handsome Sprick solo is officially slated to shut down on Friday, October 31, but will stay up through Saturday, so viewers have a little extra time to catch it. — Michael Paglia