Art Review

Jonathan Saiz at Plus Gallery

As much as any art museum or venue in town, Plus Gallery (2501 Larimer Street, 303-296-0927, is committed to showcasing cutting-edge art. The current case in point is Industry, a Jonathan Saiz solo made up of a group of closely related wall sculptures that function as a single, coherent installation.

Saiz, an interesting young artist with a studio at RedLine, was born in Denver but left some years ago to study at the Parsons School of Design's summer program in Paris and, later, at the main campus in New York City. After that, he worked at the Maryland Institute College of Art before moving to Berlin to hone his skills and launch his career. In 2004 he returned to Denver, where he has been ever since. Industry is his second solo at Plus, the first being Closed for Winter back in 2007.

The title Industry is an apt one for this show considering the overall look of the pieces. The wall-relief sculptures resemble nothing so much as parts of machines. This impression is created by their elaborate forms and by the color Saiz uses, a shade known as safety yellow, which is used in signage and on school buses. The shapes, made of assembled wooden boxes, are vaguely constructivist, but Saiz has accented them with found dials and gauges, further stressing the connection to machinery.

Each also includes tiny reproductions of old romanticized portraits taken from paintings that date to the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, with the constructivist forms serving as elaborate and over-sized frames for them, as seen in "Queen Doña Mariana of Austria" (pictured). Saiz has written that the portraits represent femininity while the structures that surround them stand in for masculinity, though you might not notice this particular dyad if it wasn't pointed out by him first – I know I didn't.

Industry is captivating, and Saiz is definitely worth watching. The marvelous exhibit runs through October 17 at Plus.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
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