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On display  Apr 17, 2015 – Aug 16, 2015

Return of the Friends of Contemporary Art + Photography juried exhibition.  Artists from New Mexico and its adjoining states selected by Nora Burnett Abrams,  Associate Curator  at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. This year’s artists are Will Clift, Danae Falliers, Chris Oatey, Sarah McKenzie, Kate Rivers, Ian Fisher and Jill Christian.

Infinite Challenge IAN FISHER

By Paola Paleari


For centuries, the sky is the largest scientific research field and, at the same time, existential.


The sky, before forming up to artistic exploration is recurrent and essential element of human history. At the same time as he became aware of himself, man has divided the world into two parallel physical and mental spaces: the globe and the celestial sphere. In the first he poured his energies, he cultivated and shaped to fit their skills; in the second projected hopes and fears, Central Italy, in the territory of the unknown and supernatural forces. For centuries, the sky is the largest scientific research field and, at the same time, existential: the astronomers, astrologers study I read the future, contemplate him dreamers, artists paint.


Ian Fisher, Canadian-born 30-year-old painter, belongs to the latter category: his works are focused exclusively on the representation of blue – and all the shades of colors that the clouds are changing in their lives.


"Why I chose to focus on the sky? Because it is so beautiful! "responds candidly Ian to my first and perhaps obvious question. "The clouds are mysterious elements in constant change. Continually alter their essence and, nevertheless, remain themselves. Heaven is the realm of chaos, but obeys a very precise rules. It is not glamorous? "


FISHER_01Atmosphere No. 50 – Follow You Into the Dark (2014) | 72 × 96 inches, oil on canvas.



How to disagree? After the impressive value of observation of nature's analysis, however, remains the difficulty of dealing with a central component of modern art: starting from the Renaissance, all the greatest masters have provided his own personal vision of the atmosphere and some, like the Englishman William Turner in the early 1800s, have placed at the center of their research, from central to truly meaningful ingredient. Ian understands the size and stratification of the surviving legacy to him, particularly because of the role that is played ("If you paint, you're a painter before being an artist"), but it points out that the question concerns more generally every theme and every kind of artistic discipline.


"Many think that, nowadays, it is impossible to create something new with the painting. In fact, it is an art form that still leaves great room for experimentation. In my case, for example, the abstraction and the hyperrealism coexist within the same work, making it difficult to divert it into a subcategory is defined and recognizable ". These large oils on canvas are in fact subtly ambiguous than it appears at first glance: photographic array, depart from reality to overcome it, bypassing the pretense of objectivity of metaphysics without going through the use of allegories. The decision to focus solely on cloud consistency, says Fisher is a challenge to the principles of perception, according to which the eye follows a grid to represent three-dimensional objects and spatial relationships within a two-dimensional plane. Delete every reference to the Earth's element is equivalent to denying this Grill so the viewpoint is moved beyond mere representation of optical phenomena, although these remain in effect the main subject of the work.


FISHER_02Atmosphere No. 47 – The Four Horsemen (2013) | 72 × 72 inches, oil on canvas.


"My job is to draw what I see, not what I know" – my job is to paint what I see, not what I know, said the aforementioned Turner in an era in which marked the passage from the landscape Impressionist interpretation tradition. Fisher knows that what we have before our eyes – in this case above our heads – is now accessible and known to all, both in its natural phenomenon of historical vision mediated by subject. His challenge is to accept this teaching, attualizzandolo for liking a world that has already made the halfway point in terms of artistic ideologies.



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Best Contemporary-Realist Show — Painting Denver 2014 - Critical Focus: Ian Fisher


Canadian-born Denver artist Ian Fisher has an interesting strategy for picture-making: Create photo-realist paintings of the sky unmoored from the landscape. For Critical Focus: Ian Fisher — which is still open — MCA curator Nora Burnett Abrams took an in-depth look at the artist's recent cloud paintings. Despite Fisher's careful realism, there's an undeniable abstract quality to the compositions, and at times they seem to almost melt into color-field territory. Though each depicts the same subject, every canvas is different and has its own unique palette — just like the clouds


Best New Artist Studios Denver 2014 - TANK Studios


Nine artists, some of them graduating RedLine residents, joined together early in 2013 to realize a dream by building out TANK, a revolutionary new studio space in Overland. The flowing circular blueprint worked so well that they've since added a second buildout of interconnected, doorless studios, including an area reserved for residents selected through Adam Gildar's nonprofit Art-Plant. Imagined in the working spirit of other precedent-setting spaces like RedLine and Ironton (which also got a new building this year), but with an added layer of grit, TANK proves that Denver's art community is ready for its close-up.

Within Art Without Art

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Openings: Joel Swanson and Ian Fisher at MCA Denver


There was double the fun at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA Denver) on Friday night, with the openings of two exhibitions from two contemporary Denver artists: Joel Swanson and Ian Fisher. The museum galleries buzzed with a consistent and excited crowd, all coming out to celebrate these two talented locals. The combination of these shows - one an interactive exhibit that keeps people moving through the galleries (Swanson), the other a reflective and peaceful exhibit inviting guests to stand and ponder - gave the audience a varied experience.

Swanson, a 36 year old Chicago-born artist, designer and writer, currently lives and works in Denver while also serving as Director of the Technology, Arts & Media Program at UC, Boulder. His show at the MCA, Joel Swanson: Left to Right, Top to Bottom, which runs through March 30th of this year, has some great sculptures, photographs and installations that enables the viewer to discover new meanings of everyday words and symbols. The artist keeps you moving, thinking, laughing, questioning and learning in a way that makes you think twice about the English language and how we communicate.


Joel Swanson, Logic Only Works in Two Dimensions, 2014
Fabricated Aluminum and steel cable

Drawing upon linguistics and conceptual art theories from the 1960's, Swanson's sculptures and installations bring to light the complexities and ambiguity of language in modern times. His inspiration is found in that of familiar symbols, phrases and grammar; his creative process made relevant by today's technology focused and digitally driven society. Furthermore, what makes his work so successful is the way his works bring the viewer into his explorations. For example, Logic Only Works in Two Dimensions (2014) - a sculpture made of fabricated aluminum and steel cable that dangles a large-scale greater-than/less-than symbol rotating just a few feet above the floor - places the viewer in an important position of translating the symbol's meaning depending on where he or she is standing. While the "<" and ">" symbols represent the inequality between two numbers or expressions in mathematics, they also have a place in the English language as well as in the language of computer programming. Thus, Swanson points towards the dichotomy between the two symbols, ultimately revealing the fact that the meaning of a symbol can refer to it's exact opposite, and that "translation" isn't as black and white as our own understanding of communication leads us to believe. To watch a video of this piece, click here.


Joel Swanson, t/here (2013), neon, 8" x 30"

Another highlight of Swanson's show was his piece titled "Homophone" (2013), a wall installation with a holographic surface that reads the words "right," "write," and "rite" depending on where the viewer is standing. While a homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, the piece illustrates Swanson's motivation to complicate the relationship between the images we see and the text that we read. I found Swanson's attempt to mess with the viewer to be playful as it encourages guests to move around the work to eye it from different angles. These motivations are what drive Swanson's creativity, and I must say, his aims are achieved through this process, keeping conceptual art stimulating and leaving us wanting more of his brilliance.

Ian Fisher, Atmosphere No. 50 (Follow you into the Dark), 2014
Oil on Canvas

Just about the same age as his contemporary, Ian Fisher was born in the 80's in Nova Scotia, Canada, transplanting to Colorado to receive his BFA from the UC Boulder in 2006. Living and working in Denver, Fisher is currently represented by Robischon Gallery in the city's LoDo district. His show at the MCA, titled Critical Focus: Ian Fisher, on view through April 13, 2014, is the artist's first solo museum exhibition and highlights his continued exploration in painting and his interest in clouds and skyscapes as subject matter. 

Fisher's oils on canvas are large in scale, bringing his beautiful imagery face to face with the viewer with a "zoomed-in" effect. Despite painting on a two dimensional surface, Fisher's skilled hand creates so much movement that you feel as though you could be pulled from the room in which you stand and float into the dreamy, atmospheric space before you. By using photographic documentation as his source material, the artist is able to produce a snap-shot in time, allowing us to revel in quiet reflection.


Ian Fisher, Atmosphere No. 34, 2011, Oil on Canvas

With their bold colors, which are somewhat abstract in form, these paintings are quite powerful and evoke feelings of mystery, awe, and nostalgia. Bringing to mind Michelangelo's ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, there seems to be some cognizance of the Almighty above which pervades many of the works in this show. Who knows if that is Fisher's intention or not - maybe it's just my own nostalgic feelings while experiencing the work. Nevertheless, I found this to be an impressive quality of his work. Also impressive (maybe even more so) is the fact that Fisher is able to dodge the kind of "kitschiness" that this imagery is so often be characterized by.

For more information on these two artists, visit TANK Studios where both Swanson and Fisher are members of here in Denver. Also be sure to check out MCA Denver's website to learn more about their current exhibits, as well as their Facebook page where you'll find more pictures and installation shots of both shows. 

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Now Showing


By Michael Paglia Thursday, Mar 13 2014


Critical Focus: Ian Fisher. This show, located in the informal Whole Room at MCA Denver, is made up of a group of mostly monumental paintings of the sky. It's the type of thing that has become the artist's signature. Though Fisher begins with photographs of clouds used as studies, the resulting compositions, though photographically accurate in their details, are clearly painted and not mechanical reproductions. Fisher has eliminated any reference to the ground — in essence, freeing the sky element of a classic landscape painting from its moorings — and that provides just enough frisson to give the traditionally painted renditions of clouds a contemporary feel. And though they all share the same formal vocabulary, the palettes of the paintings are diverse, reflecting the different atmospheric conditions each depicts. The show was curated by the MCA's Nora Burnett Abrams, who has laudably been mining the local scene to find subjects for museum shows — as she did with Fisher — and in the process giving them a breakthrough opportunity to promote their talents. Through April 13 at MCA Denver, 1485 Delgany Street, 303-298-7554,