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By Michael Paglia


This review was originally printed during the show "Ronald Davis: Recent Abstractions: 2001-02" at the Victoria H. Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Colorado in September 2002.



The Victoria H. Meyhen Gallery, in the Shwayder Art Building on the University of Denver's campus (2121 East Asbury Avenue, 303-871-2846, is hosting an exqusite exhibit titled: Ronald Davis: Recent Abstractions: 2001–2002. The show, which was organized by Gwen Chanzit, a professor of art history at DU and a curator in the Denver Art Museum's department of modern and contemporary art.

Davis enjoyed a measure of fame as a painter in the 1960s, but today is known mainly to specialists in abstract art. Chanzit came up the the idea for this show a few months ago, after visiting the artist at his studio compound in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico. Davis lives and works in a series of hogans made from geometric domes that relate flawlessly to the painted constructions on view at the Myhren.

Those pieces are fascinating for several reasons, not the least of which is that they refer to post-minimalism by breaking with the flat-surface standard of painting. Although they look like paintings at first, they are actually wall sculptures — or, at the very least, reliefs, like "Trompe Trapezoids".

Davis begins with expanded PVC plastic, which he cuts and joins into elaborate shapes. After filling and finishing the shapes, he paints them with acrylic pigments. In some places, the painting gives the illusion of three-dimensionality; in others, three-dimensional spaces are painted to appear flat. Davis enhances the forms' shadowy passages by painting them darker shades of the colors used on adjacent flat areas.

In addition to these abstract constructions, the show also includes Davis's computer-generated prints. Like his painted works, they are based on an exploration of geometry.

Finding parking around DU can be a nightmare (try the visitors' lot as Asbury and Race), but once you see this magical show, you'll be glad you went to the trouble.

—Michael Paglia