William Stockman became a star in Denver’s art scene in the 1990s via ambitious solos filled with beautifully crafted, nominally representational works with enigmatic subject matter. And he’s still at it, as seen in the marvelous William Stockman: After Thought, now at Gildar Gallery.
The paintings here represent a straightforward continuation of the aesthetic and narrative interests that Stockman has explored all along (birds, the nature of the figure, conveying emotion), yet some are notably more painterly than usual. Still, drawing continues to be the basis of Stockman’s art, with pronounced drawn components anchoring the works in this show. Some, like “We’re All Losers Now” and the closely associated though much more monumental “Walk in the Sun Once More,” are signature Stockmans covered with figural elements — in particular, depictions of busts. These elements have been loosely carried out and are sometimes smeared or covered over. In both paintings, the grounds are essentially white, recalling Stockman’s classic black-on-white drawings, but with judicious bursts of colors here and there.
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Others move further away from drawing, including the wildly expressionistic “Castor and Pollux.” In the back, the more constrained but equally exuberant “New Invasive Species” brings together multiple experimental approaches seen singly in other pieces. “New Invasive Species” depicts more than a dozen brightly colored birds perched on a ghostly rendition of a bare tree, with most of the birds contained within cage-like rectangles. The ground has been heavily worked in gray, blue and cream, with a striking cluster of colors at the base of the tree. Stockman created this effect by simply pushing the palette against the painting; as simple a gesture as that was, it really worked.
The intriguing Stockman exhibit runs through November 4 at Gildar Gallery, 82 South Broadway (where owner Adam Gildar says the gallery has another year on its lease, although other tenants in the building are vacating because of rent increases). Call 303-993-4474 or go to gildargallery.com for more information.