Art Review

Review: Dmitri Obergfell Collapses the Old Into the New at Gildar Gallery

Yinfinity: New Works by Dmitri Obergfell Gildar Gallery 82 South Broadway

The Gildar Gallery is a modest, nearly anonymous South Broadway storefront with minimal exhibition space, but to his credit, director Adam Gildar continues to present a schedule of thoughtful shows, even if some of them aren't entirely successful. That's hardly what I'd say about the current offering, though, because it works in spades. Yinfinity: New Works by Dmitri Obergfell positively vibrates with aesthetic and conceptual energy -- just like Obergfell himself.

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. The sculptures and wall panels here survey a range of image sources and a variety of sensibilities. For Obergfell, they're linked by references to ancient or otherwise recognizable symbols. But truth be told, the interconnections are pretty tenuous, other than the young artist's use of interference paint, an automotive finish coming out of the custom-car culture.

Interference paint's special feature is that it changes color as the viewer moves past the pieces painted with it. (Interestingly, this is precisely the reverse of the original intended use of the paint, since it is the car, and not the person looking at it, that is meant to be moving.)


One of the things that struck me the first time I encountered Obergfell's work -- at Pirate, a few years ago -- was how obvious it was that he had an interest in creating something elegant. The piece I saw comprised a cast classical bust made of plaster mixed with graphite; it was in front of an automatist scribble that had been applied directly to the wall. Obergfell had used the graphite-infused bust to create the scribble, thus mashing up traditional and modernist sensibilities and, in an unlikely way, coming up with something contemporary.

There's a related piece in Yinfinity, "Apotheosis," in which a fragment of a bust -- the crown of its head having been worn flat -- has a skull fragment placed on top as though it is emerging from the head. The skull is finished with interference paint.

. "Cloud of Unknowing" also reveals Obergfell's skill at riffing off traditional art to create non-traditional work; in it, a cast figure painted with interference paint depicts the Prince of Peace perched on a bowling ball.

The wall panels are different in sensibility -- in particular, the minimalist homage "Scalar Fields" and the photo-based, laser-etched "Reflection Moon #2." But others, like "Disambiguation" and "Ur-Eve," pick up on the idea of collapsing the old and the new. Everything in the show has a high level of finish, with Obergfell having contracted with professionals to carry out the water-jet cutting, laser etching and automotive painting he needed to make his pieces.

Yinfinity runs through November 14 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway. For more information, call 303-993-4474 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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