Mar 29 – May 5, 2012
Stephen Batura’s impressive large-scale paintings bring to life the dramatic spectacle and complex images from early 20th century photographic archives. Part encore presentation first seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and part newly-exhibited works, Batura’s choice of imagery and scale is made compelling by the artist’s elaborate and sophisticated brushwork. Upon investigation, the historical aspect of each primarily monochromatic painting can be interpreted, as the artist’s states, “as tangential to its meaning.” Batura offers further that his interest in his photographic resource materials is essentially not due to its historical time-frame, but rather that the use of its period becomes a means of expression to reflect the continuity of human endeavor.
Seen through the current lens of the instant information era of the 21st century and transformed through each hard-won mark of the artist’s brush, the quiet, yet monumental grandeur of each painting at first glance seems anachronistic; their focus and vantage points appear distant in time. The chaos often surrounding humanity unites both past and present through scenes highlighting the cost of progress – calamity ignited by human folly or the periodic throw of Nature’s fury. In both, Batura invites and reflects the rhythm of each cycle. For the painting entitled spring morning, the wide landscape and soft green color belies the aftermath of a horrific train derailment. The twisted rail cars are zig-zagged off the track, the wrecked cargo spilled while curious on-lookers view the resulting spectacle. Within the artist’s multi-layered painting process, Batura respects the record of each discovered photographic image. Having mined new depths of meaning with each committed brushstroke and imposing scale, Batura’s paintings call to attention what is both undaunted and fragile within human condition.