Denise Regan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Color is the chief expressive element in Denise Regan's paintings at Fleur, and in the strongest the way the colors collide intensifies the rich sensuality of each. The audience members behind the stage in the right background of Harpist Red, with their indistinct multicolored faces and clothing, seem as close to us as the red wall at left, and both seem to almost press against the performers. Regan acknowledges the influence of Henri Matisse, Gustav Klimt, Pierre Bonnard, and folk artists, but her schematically painted faces hint at an inner soul, reminding me of Emil Nolde. The nude woman reclining on a couch in Lulu is surrounded by greens, reds, and blues that seem tinged by the brown of her skin; her body bends in a V at the waist, following the couch's contours, and a painted checkerboard forms a border, both adding to the sense of taut compression. The color contrast is stronger in Sweet Peas and Socrates: a central dark vase stands before a bright red and orange floral pattern, which rhymes with the flowers in the vase, sharpening each color and giving the vase weight and mystery. Fleur, 1833 S. Halsted, through March 27. Hours are noon to 5 Monday and Thursday through Saturday; 312-421-8929.

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