Chris Oatey & Dylan Gebbia-Richards, now at David B. Smith Gallery, brings together an extremely rough mix of two distinct sensibilities: Chris Oatey creates small, delicately rendered patterns, while Dylan Gebbia-Richards makes large, boldly colored all-over abstractions The two artists do have a few things in common, though; most notably, both embrace non-objective compositions.
Oatey uses an unusual method: He draws on paper with a sheet of carbon paper underneath so that the carbon transfers marks onto the bottom paper. Since he often reuses the carbon paper, marks from previous drawings can be seen in the later ones — not by their presence, but by their absence, taking the form of subtle skips in the lines. Four of the pieces here respond to tides, four to corduroy, but all comprise loosely done linear patterns. They are very quiet in appearance, particularly next to the loud visual effects conjured up by Gebbia-Richards.
The Gebbia-Richards paintings are large; the two biggest ones measure seven feet square. Gebbia-Richards also employs an unusual method: He applies colored waxes with an industrial blower, building up the wax in coats to form tiny repeated spires that come up high off the surfaces. In “In Night,” a lighter-colored passage descends into a darker ground that envelops it; the colors used are complex, with different shades appearing on different levels. More graphic is “Fall From Grace,” in which a splattered black shape rises through a light-colored ground. In many ways, these paintings recall abstract expressionism, but Gebbia-Richards puts a new spin on the old style.
Donald Fodness: Duets, a separate show in the experimental space, displays a funky mashup of abstraction, surrealism, pop and kitsch. Several of the wall pieces involve altered ready-made images; Fodness adds to and subtracts from the original sources. He pushes the concept even further in his memorable small bronzes. For “Mr. and Mrs. Manyheads,” a pair of compact totems, Fodness has stacked found face mugs and cast them in bronze, then covered them in a gorgeous verdigris patina. It’s a clear example of his longstanding interest in merging lowbrow and highbrow aesthetics — and that merger works really well here.
Both shows run through February 18 at David B. Smith Gallery, 1543A Wazee Street; for more information, call 303-893-4234 or go to davidbsmithgallery.com.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.