Stephen Batura : Floodplain
Nov 19, 2015 – Jan 23, 2016
Robischon Gallery is pleased to present “Floodplain,” the fourth solo exhibition for Colorado artist Stephen Batura. Recognized for his previous painting series of large and small-scale abstracted landscape and figurative works inspired by circa 1900s photography, Batura’s loose and light-filled ethereal mark served his past exploration well, as he delved deeply into the photographic monochromatic views of early 20thC Western life. Through his layered casein brushwork, the artist’s handling of his wide-ranging and often wildly dramatic subject matter, such as train wrecks or the aftermath of a collapsing mine, Batura captured a kind of dreamlike, yet specific memory of the West. Most notable of this previous work is Batura’s decade-long project reinterpreting in the aliveness of paint, the entire photographic archive of turn-of-the-century Colorado recluse and photographer Charles Lillybridge.
While incorporating Lillybridge in part for the “Floodplain” exhibition, Stephen Batura also circles round to present a parallel, non-historical exploration of his mark-making to include, along with new paintings, an earlier massive-scale work by the same title. The painting impressively anchors the large gallery space and overtly conveys another aspect of the artist’s work in which Batura pursues a different direction away from abstracting historical images and toward referencing his own manipulated photographs. Batura’s original photograph of the Colorado River further engaged the artist’s commitment to abstraction and as a result the singular, large-scale twelve-foot tall by forty-foot wide painting was achieved. Inhabiting the gallery’s expansive fifty-foot wall, the massive work is one of several paintings which explore in varying scale the nuanced shifts of light as refracted on the river’s surface. True of all of the artist’s water or surrounding landscape subjects is that they take shape through abstraction with Batura’s masterful, revealing brushwork of unexpected form and subtle hues, actively translating the feeling of flowing water within changing environments. In this way, the major scale, multi-paneled Floodplain painting hints at the encompassing volume of water that might ensue during or following a flood, while simultaneously offering a close up view of the nature of water itself. And while a flood typically represents a disaster, like the artist’s previous and spectacular train-wreck subjects of the West, Batura’s lens and sensitive expression presents another way of seeing – a point of view which is in equal measure immersive and contemplative as it considers the potent mark of water on the land and the constant presence of light revealed on an ever-shifting surface.
Stephen Batura is a Denver painter who received his B.F.A. from the University of Colorado. His work has been shown at the Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Arvada Center for the Arts, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, Denmark, Denver Public Library, Mizel Arts Center, Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and more. A recipient of numerous grants and awards, Batura has been recognized through several public commissions including a 30 by 25 foot lobby mural at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in the historic Auditorium Theater. The Denver Art Museum has a Batura painting in its permanent collection and in addition to the opera house mural, the artist’s public art projects include a Red Rocks Amphitheater Visitor’s Center mural and the Lowry Trios, a 12-panel installation at the Schlessman branch of the Denver Public Library, 3 Paintings for the James Walsh United States Courthouse, Tucson, Arizona and an beloved 8 by 24 foot mural in LoDo’s Union Station. Stephen Batura is currently painting toward a solo exhibition in 2016 at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.