Artist Tania Dibbs obliterates landscapes in new Aspen gallery |

Artist Tania Dibbs obliterates landscapes in new Aspen gallery

Andrew Travers
The Aspen Times
Aspen-based artist Tania Dibbs has opened a new gallery on Hopkins Ave., which is hosting an exhibition of her newest works, which feature obstructed landscapes.
Aubree Dallas |

If You Go …

What: Tania Dibbs Gallery opening reception

Where: 308 E. Hopkins Ave., Aspen

When: Friday, Dec. 19, 6-8 p.m.

More info:

As a painter, Tania Dibbs spent years establishing a practice and an aesthetic. Based in Aspen for more than 20 years, Dibbs made rich, representational landscapes and mountain-scapes that cemented her reputation. They grew more abstract over the years as she evolved, with series of work that that looked more like shimmering water or a landscape as seen in memory. That body of work appears to have prepared her for what she’s now exploring on canvas.

Over the past year, she’s continued making landscapes, only to destroy them and obstruct them with dark forms, glue and glitter.

This brave new body of work is showcased in her new gallery on Hopkins Avenue, in the space that formerly hosted the Ute City Bar and Grill, which opens today.

“The obliteration of it is the part that I’m excited about,” Dibbs said on a recent walk through the opening exhibition in her new gallery.

“I feel that, fully in my work, I’m able to explore these things in a way that’s not didactic or trite or shallow. I think this is a truth of our time.”
Tania Dibbs

She hopes the work will raise some complex questions about man and nature, civilization’s encroachment on the environment and human manipulation of the natural world.

“Glitter embodies the frivolity of human endeavor,” she explained.

There is, quite literally, a lot going on beneath the surface of these new works. Dibbs makes the idyllic landscape paintings — beneath the glitter and glue and such — with the attention to detail she would use if she weren’t going to cover so much of it up. That’s key to the themes in these paintings.

“People ask, ‘How could you?’” she explained. “And I say, ‘Exactly. How could we?’”

Dibbs has taken over the Ute City space on a short-term lease. It’s a similar situation to the one that put her in a pop-up gallery on the Hyman Avenue mall for three seasons, beginning in 2009. Before that, she had shown work in respected local galleries such as Barney Wyckoff and Elliott Yeary, and outside of the valley in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, while also selling internationally. Her solo shows in the Hyman Avenue space — where Hops Culture now operates — began with one titled “107 Days,” a nod to the length of her initial lease.

At the new gallery, Dibbs said, she wants more than simply a place to sell work temporarily. She wants to present thoughtfully curated exhibitions of her newest work. To that end, she’s recruiting experts in the field to assist hanging a series of shows in the space and is recruiting guest curators to help hang more in coming weeks and months.

“It was important to me to show the work well,” she said.

The current show will remain up until Jan. 5, when a guest curator will select new work and rotate out the pieces now hanging there.

In “Glittersick” and “Glitterverse,” an idyllic patch of blue sky and clouds hosts a creeping dark glittery form that dominates the foreground.

“Endeavor” portrays a rich clouded sky at sunset, with wild, doodle-like swirls of glittered paint covering it.

The painting “Red Nature Improvement” — the title, Dibbs said, a play on DuPont and Monsanto advertising genetically modified and “improved” food and seeds — shows a red sky that is seemingly caged behind a rough grid of gold glitter.

The 17 works in the opening show include some from a series titled “Anthropocene,” and another called ‘Metanarrative,” which explore, in an abstract way, themes of man’s encroachment on nature.

“I feel that, fully in my work, I’m able to explore these things in a way that’s not didactic or trite or shallow,” she said. “I think this is a truth of our time.”