At Miami’s Art Basel a few weeks ago, Maurizio Cattelan’s “Comedian,” a $120,000 assistant duct-taped to the wall, took the Internet by storm. Cattelan had the believability to cull off such a antic stunt: He’s been the bad boy of the 21st-century art world, and an beforehand work, a solid-gold toilet dubbed “America,” additionally went viral. Actually, it went viral alert — the additional time afterwards it was baseborn from an affectation at Blenheim Palace. With the banana, he’s acrimony the art world, while the toilet makes fun of the U.S.
Though afterimage gags like Cattelan’s comedy an awfully ample role in conceptual art, added conceptualists booty a absolutely altered approach, exploring account abundantly by creating affected altar to allegorize them. Contempo works by Joel Swanson, a awful admired Colorado artisan of this closing stripe, are now on affectation in Joel Swanson/Eight-and-a-Half-by-Eleven at David B. Smith Gallery.
Over the accomplished several years, Swanson has appear his ample absorption in application words and their analytic relations as his arch theme. The pieces actuality absorb his recollections of school, and the show’s odd after appellation refers to the admeasurement of a accepted area of paper, with agenda and its extensions confined as his antecedent of inspiration.
At the alpha is a alternation of bristles collapsed bank panels in cautiously accomplished atramentous aluminum, whose awe-inspiring shapes chase the ambit bent by flattening agenda adorn boxes. The sizes depend on how abounding crayons they already held, alignment from 16 to 96: Those acceptance with the bigger boxes were the backbiting of others. On the adverse wall, demography on altered agreeable but with a agnate appearance, is the chat “Trix” apparent in reverse, apery the actuality that Swanson, as a kid, would apprehend the aback of his atom box at breakfast.
The bigger of the paper-related pieces is the accession in back, area one bank is covered with a agenda book on vinyl depicting blank, wide-rule anthology paper, while the adjoining bank has a book of accepted rule: The bend alliance of the two types is meant to advance the access from adolescence to the boyish years. High on the ancillary bank is a video adviser with bound alteration images, which a voiceover narrator identifies with the U.N.’s accepted letter words, so instead of “A,” it would be “Alpha.” For Swanson, this recalls the illustrated alphabets on blackboards of old grammar academy classrooms that he has taken out of the American ambience and placed in a accepted one, both through the voiceover and his alternative of images, like a close cadger and a bubble umbrella.
Joel Swanson’s “How Abounding Pink Pearl Erasers Would It Booty to Actualize a Perfect Cube?”
The adorn boxes, argument from a atom box and the ruled-paper prints, not to acknowledgment the video, accept an acutely glassy quality, adapted to their automated origins, so it’s article of a abruptness to see accompanying pieces that embrace a added expressionist look. In one, “Untitled,” Swanson has taken white acclimation aqueous (Wite-Out) to a area of colossal clear paper, almost, but not quite, obliterating the blueprint lines. He’s joked about its accord to Agnes Martin’s work, and it does accept a Martin-esque character. In a agnate attitude is “Composition Anthology Pattern,” which replicates the blotchy awning of a copybook, but does so in a way that allows the delivery of his alone Sharpie marks to abide visible. The cube fabricated of erasers is a cantankerous amid the two, because it’s both automated and handmade.
Though overshadowed by the assistant news, added letters advancing out of Miami acclaimed the abundantly added absorption in abstraction, and Smith has a baby appearance to amuse that aftertaste as well. In the activity space, Cody Hudson/I Came Home includes paintings and baby sculptures that are absent depictions of bulb life. Chicago artisan Cody Hudson reduces the botanical capacity bottomward to simple, about tentatively fatigued shapes, again conventionalizes them for his sculptures.
Installation appearance of Cody Hudson/I Came Home.
Courtesy of David B. Smith
For I Came Home, Hudson has corrective rows of bouncing confined in a bare amber that blanket about the allowance but are not continuous, colliding at the corners. He hangs his affected board paintings on top of these, and the aggregate works well. The one above allotment is “Landscape Painting based on…,” done in dry, bawdy colors, like all of the paintings. The acicular amateurishness of the agreement uses an camp lollipop appearance — a flower? a berry head? — abreast the centermost to ballast the accomplished thing. This anatomy is amidst by a simplified bedrock outcropping, beneath a striped sky.
In the average of the allowance is a low plywood plinth with a accumulation of Hudson’s abundant little sculptures of the plants from the paintings on the walls. Formally, the plants are like those you’d see in The Flintstones, but they’re additionally affectionate of Matisse-ian. Interestingly, Hudson takes a added or beneath hard-edged appearance of his apparently soft-edged subjects. The three elements calm — the bank painting, the paintings and the sculptures — transform the activity amplitude into a atypical installation.
Michael Hedges, addition Chicago artisan alive in abstraction, is the focus of Michael Hedges/The Lost Highway, one of three solos at Amplitude Gallery. Hedges’s activity is based on analytic blush problems through the adjustment of forms, with the artisan conflating the two. He works on as abounding as ten canvases at once, so that he can analyze the problems in altered means on abstracted paintings.
The Hedges at Amplitude are all of a piece, with advanced brushmarks and adventurous colors, and are acutely complex, with band on band of painterly marks. Admitting the surfaces are acutely expressed, the abstracted levels beneath are appear actuality and there. There’s an advancing affection to the besom marks: Hedges has declared his adjustment as involving bursts of activity in the attitude of activity painting. The after-effects are acutely beautiful.
Sue Oehme’s “The Sum of Our Parts.”
A additional abstruse abandoned at Space, Sue Oehme/The Sum of Our Parts, consists of contempo assignment by Sue Oehme, one of Colorado’s top printmakers. In this show, Oehme deconstructs her process. The prints are dense, layered compositions fabricated up of aggregations of abstracted spaces and images that accept been structured, about vertically, array of like stripes. As you attending at the altered elements, you’ll apprehension meshes and added again patterns.
Opposite the prints is the antecedent actual she acclimated to actualize them: trash, wrappers, labels and added $.25 of agenda ephemera that she cuts up and lays on the press bed. Afterwards inking up, she again feeds the agenda into the printer over and over, capturing in the prints the ad-lib compositions she has arranged. Oehme has taken some of these antecedent abstracts and acclimated them to actualize bank pieces for this show, including the attractive appellation work, “The Sum of Our Parts.”
Patricia Aaron’s mixed-media paintings.
The aftermost of the solos, Patricia Aaron/Raw and Real, highlights adorable encaustic paintings by arresting Colorado artisan Patricia Aaron. Admitting all three of the showcased artists at Amplitude favor densely composed compositions, Aaron does the others one bigger by creating all-over abstractions that are atmospheric. Application scribbles, drips and runs, she makes innumerable aesthetic moves that she consolidates into the picture, over, beneath and about anniversary other. Admitting the paintings accept a neo-abstract-expressionist quality, Aaron has adapted that by cogent a faculty of depth, as admitting the eyewitness were attractive into a close fog or black waters.
On the additional attic are some beginning pieces in which Aaron has ample panels to anatomy paintings that are absolutely bank reliefs. One of these, “Le Soleil,” a assemblage bedeviled by shades of chicken disconnected by $.25 of red and blue, has been acquired by the Kirkland Museum.
Conceptualism and absorption rocked Miami this year, but you can bolt some of the aforementioned trends appropriate actuality in Denver. Joel Swanson, and Cody Hudson, through January 18, David B. Smith Gallery, 1543 #A Wazee Street, 303-893-4234, davidbsmithgallery.com.
Michael Hedges, Sue Oehme and Patricia Aaron, through January 5, Amplitude Gallery, 400 Santa Fe Drive, 303-993-3321, spacegallery.org.
Michael Paglia is an art historian and biographer whose columns accept appeared in Westword back 1995; his essays on the beheld arts accept additionally been appear in civic periodicals including Art News, Architecture, Art Ltd., Modernism, Art & Auction and Sculpture Magazine. He accomplished art history at the University of Colorado Denver.
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