Daniel Sprick at the Denver Art Museum
''A good deal of what I paint is kitchen refuse." Daniel Sprick (b. 1953) says, alluding to the milk cartons, eggshells, and Chinese takeout containers that populate his still lifes alongside more traditional subjects like flowers and skulls. Assistant curator of modern and contemporary art Jane Fudge puts it more poetically: "Dan finds evidence of transcendence in homely objects." In Fudge's eyes, this trait links him with a long and distinguished realist tradition.
The surreal mood of Sprick's paintings in this exhibition titled Daniel Sprick: Objects and Paintings, which opened May 29, 1999 and runs through September 26, 1999, is subtle and often arises from the fact that he paints with such preternatural clarity that his works look, in the words of his Denver dealer, "more real than reality." Although he recently moved to California, the 45-year-old Sprick lived in Glenwood Springs most of his life. Local connoisseurs will recognize his work from the Rotary Club's annual Artists of America exhibitions, and DAM visitors may have admired the floating tabletop painting, My Metaphysical Adventure, in the Museum's permanent collection.
In the exhibition catalogue Fudge writes; "Sprick paints with intensity and even joy. He keeps an eye out for signs of transcendence in the everyday, yet he has a completely contemporary sense of irony that is illustrated by the following parallel. The Master of Flémalle and Roger van der Weyden furnished their imaginary (but convincingly painted) interiors with the same props again and again. A certain kind of bulbous, blue-figured import ceramic made a regular appearance in both artists' works, usually as a flower pot for the Virgin's symbolic lily. Daniel Sprick updates this familiar motif with prosaic but no less beautifully decorated milk cartons. In Dusk and Vapor, one milk carton label reads 'Vapor Calcium Fortified,' while another proclaims, 'The Dusk Fat Free Milk.' Daniel Sprick enjoys these near-surreal enigmas and plants them frequently for viewers to find, a kind of hide-the-thimble game folded into his beautifully realized works."
This is the inaugural exhibition in the Vance Kirkland Close Range Gallery in the Museum's Department of Modern & Contemporary Art.
Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Calla Lily #2, 1998, oil on Masonite, private collection; You Should Live Like Flowers, 1998, oil on Masonite, collection of Dr, Robert and Yvette Keyser.
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