(back to Review Page)

Denver Post


Subject: Re: MEMBER PREVIEW: Thursday November 11th 1999 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 10:59:17 EST
From: MARKSINK@aol.com
To: artmax@unix.sri.com

First fluff ..write up from the denver post ...much more will be
comming....he skipped the best work....
Exhibit of surrealist works blurs the line

What: "Real to Surreal'
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art /Denver
When: Opening today; through Feb. 12. Hours: 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Tickets: $3, $2 seniors.
Phone: 303-298-7553
Web site:

By Glenn Giffin
Denver Post Arts Critic
November 12 , 1999

Andreé Breton, one of the progenitors of the surrealist movement between the World Wars, said one of the aims of the movement was to generate "absolute reality, a super-reality.'' Given that, the show opening today at the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver, "Real to Surreal,'' is on target. Indeed, one aim of surrealism is to bring the viewer up short and make him or her think, as did Rene Magritte with his famous "Ceci n'est pas un pipe,'' which plainly portrays - but is not - a pipe. In the current show, Sophie Matisse (great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse and granddaughter of Marcel Duchamp) offers a couple of severely realistic paintings based on Vermeer. "Simple copies'' is the first reaction. Then you notice something missing. One is of Vermeer's "The Lace Maker,'' except there's no lace-making figure. The line between the super-real, as represented by John DeAndrea, and the surreal, as in one of the late John Fudge's works, can be very fine indeed. DeAndrea, whose "Linda'' at the Denver Art Museum is a consistent draw, shocking viewers with a replica of a living body so finely executed that it can be mistaken on first view for the real thing. Fudge plays with realism, too, in "Why Am I Here,'' seemingly a nature painting of a squirrel, finely executed and lively. Then a viewer notices that the clouds of the background form a question mark, echoed by the curve of the animal's tail and the complementary curves of the tree branches. Why, indeed? Matt O'Neil plays with the idea of photography married to cubism in two portraits that have the gloss of a black-and-white photo, but with disjointed features. This is not, strictly speaking, surrealism, but it's a lot of fun. Other paintings by O'Neill, such as "Love Triangle/The Blue Couch,'' play with the detachment of features in a dissolving setting. For those who like their surrealism pure and simple, there is Robert Hawkins, who has several paintings in this show. One is of an apparition before an open fire. "Hawkinsland'' is a moody, evocative remembrance of Boschlike landscape, but without people. A moment of irreverence suggests that, if Jesus were alive today, he wouldn't just walk on water, he'd water ski - without the need of tow rope.

This is a large show. Curator Mark Sink noted that between the initial planning of the show and its actual installation, the museum expanded its space and added a lot of exhibition wall space. Even so, having 23 artists makes this something of an intimidating show on paper. It is not so in reality; the juxtapositions of similar styles flow easily into one another. The academic nudes and portraits-- the realist side of the show-- demonstrate amply that without the "real'' there is no surreal. That leaves Terry Maker as one of the truly troubling artists of the show. Her small paintings include real objects to which a viewer's attention is drawn by magnifying glasses. Then one notices that tint or even perhaps blood has oozed down the wall and puddled on the floor from the painting wall mounts. Where a nail hole pierces a baby's eye and drains away its blue color, or where a hacksaw blade slices a finger, is unsettling. But so, too, is the enlarged view of a grasshopper's cadaver frivolously enveloped in a dress. And, at the end of it all, there's the delightful frisson of what is/is not real/surreal.

Copyright 1999 The Denver Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.