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Review: K Contemporary and Space Offer Different Takes on Abstraction

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Review: K Contemporary and Space Offer Different Takes on Abstraction

MICHAEL PAGLIA | MARCH 13, 2019 | 6:46AM

Denver shows over the past few months have been dominated by artists using representational imagery, both conceptual and otherwise, including William Stockman, Yoshitomo Saito, Enrique Martínez Celaya and Jordan Casteel, as well as the many participants in Month of Photography exhibits. But now abstract is back, both conceptual and otherwise.

One illustration of this: Michael Gadlin: Shades of Significance, at K ContemporaryMichael Gadlin is a well-known Colorado painter who has a high-profile side gig as a host on Rocky Mountain PBS’s Arts District program. Though he spent some time in New York while attending the Pratt Institute of Art and Design, he’s mostly lived and worked in the Denver area.

His show at K was curated by gallery director Doug Kacena, who's installed everything to its best advantage in the handsome, ground-floor showroom. The secret to Kacena’s exhibition design success is that he gives individual works plenty of breathing room; in this case, you can really see what Gadlin is doing. Over the years, the artist has blended traditional ideas about painting with more contemporary ones, and his current style has something of a retro gloss. While there’s plenty of classic modernism in these pieces, which are similar in attitude to abstract surrealism from the mid-twentieth century, there's also a dash of Dada, along with a refined response to graffiti assembled to carry out the complex and layered compositions. Adding a subtle illusion of depth, Gadlin partly paints over found imagery from the collage elements that lie behind the grounds; on top, he inserts his own vaguely defined shapes and, often at the picture plane, outlines of plants, flowers, geometric shapes and vessels.

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