Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Kim Piotrowski/Linda Warren Projects

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Kim Piotrowski. "Tide Tango, 2014, ink and flashe on gallery wall

Kim Piotrowski. “Tide Tango, 2014, ink and flashe on gallery wall

RECOMMENDED

The sheer intensity and level of attack sustained in painter Kim Piotrowski’s first solo show with Linda Warren Projects remained palpable days after I viewed it. In art, first impressions aren’t always reliable, and exhibitions that linger on in the back of your mind usually signal something deeper. Maybe what you initially thought was good really wasn’t, and what looked like failure was actually success in disguise.

Packed with evocative titles and equally suggestive shapes, the show’s twenty-plus works heave and ripple, yielding a sensory overload of glistening bodies enmeshed in an orgy of pleasure. Piotrowski’s slick black line is almost always upfront, potent and seductive, whipping the eye through multi-hued compositions while exposing fragmentary glimpses of any number of vaguely recognizable objects. In the wrong hands, this is the stuff of clichéd, rapidly deployed, easy-bake abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Daniel Giles and Eliza Myrie/Roots & Culture

Ceramics, Drawings, Installation, Performance, Video, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Eliza Myrie. "diamond, diamond, graphite," graphite and paper, dimensions variable

Eliza Myrie. “diamond, diamond, graphite,” graphite and paper, dimensions variable

RECOMMENDED

In “go/figure,” Eliza Myrie and Daniel Giles converse over problems with abstraction, distortion and obfuscation of black bodies’ representations. Their respective historical research and process-based practices make manifest obscured features in histories of African mining and the craft objects of black slaves in the American South. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Magalie Guérin/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Magalie Guérin. "Untitled (hat-profile), 2013-14, oil on canvas

Magalie Guérin. “Untitled (hat-profile),” 2013-14, oil on canvas

RECOMMENDED

Modest in size but not shy at all, five colorful oil paintings by Magalie Guérin dance with each other across Corbett vs. Dempsey’s west wing. The dance is a type of choreographed freestyle—alive, morphing and flirtatious, the canvases beckon toward viewers to come closer. Through the physicality of the paintings’ surfaces, one can easily trace the artist’s mark and extensive process of rework. Colorful shapes float, overlap and morph together at the mercy of the artist and the observation of the audience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nayland Blake and Claire Pentecost/Iceberg Projects

Installation, Photography, Rogers Park, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of Nayland Blake and Claire Pentecost's "Polypersephony" at Iceberg Projects

Installation view of Nayland Blake and Claire Pentecost’s “Polypersephony” at Iceberg Projects

RECOMMENDED

A libidinous wit roils on the surface of “Polypersephony,” a collaborative installation by Nayland Blake and Claire Pentecost at Iceberg Projects. The title is a portmanteau combining the musical term “polyphony” (voice versus voice) with “Persephone,” the famous underworld abductee of myth.

The dimly lit space has an underworld feel, not of a cave but of the secret back room of a subterranean nightclub. Light strobes through a doorway hung with a curtain of tinsel, behind which transpires a bacchanalian gathering of garden gnomes. The tinsel allows perspective but not access, ensuring that viewers participate only in the (important) role of voyeur. The wall that encloses the space is violated by an intrusion and a protrusion. What appear at first as chthonic, genital proxies reveal themselves to be the molds from which the gnomes were cast. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Theaster Gates No Longer Represented by Kavi Gupta

News etc. No Comments »
'Holding Court' Theaster Gates Armory Show Commissioned Artist, 2012

‘Holding Court’ Theaster Gates Armory Show Commissioned Artist, 2012

Theaster Gates, recently positioned in Newcity’s Art 50 as the #1 most influential and important artist working in Chicago today, will no longer be represented by Kavi Gupta Gallery. Gates’ website has been updated to direct inquiries about his work to White Cube in London.

In an email from Kavi Gupta, the gallerist explained the mutual decision that he and Gates arrived at: “The gallery is still working with him but on a project by project basis. We decided to change the way we work with him, as he is spending more time on his larger real-estate/public art projects and social art practice and less on art objects. His practice has become much more than something that is defined by a brick and mortar art gallery, and he has ideas that go way beyond the scope of our activity. However, because of our long relationship with him and because we introduced him to the art world, we mutually decided to focus on helping him with his future projects as they relate to art and keep loose ties going forward.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Burn It Down/Heaven Gallery

Installation, Painting, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Larry Lee's installation in Heaven Gallery's "Burn It Down"

Larry Lee. “Monument for Saul Alinsky as ribbed condominium,” 2014, polystyrene, enamel, acetate and Sharpie

RECOMMENDED

Why do so many of our riots end in flames? Why do we feel drawn to sit around a campfire? We burn, in part, because fire is what birthed civilization. Fire, like man, can destroy what is old, be the life-giver to something new, or consume us all. Curator of “Burn It Down” Paul Hopkin explores fire’s dualities, and our complex relationship to it.

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All The Pretty Things are Going To Hell: A Guest Essay by Lise Haller Baggesen on David Bowie Day in Chicago

Multimedia, News etc. 1 Comment »
Wakeup Makeup With Rahm Emanuel (courtesy of Facebook)

Wakeup Makeup With Rahm Emanuel (courtesy of Facebook)

One early morning last week—as I was getting ready to go down to Navy Pier to put the finishing touches on my installation for the “Art Prom” that was at the third annual installment of Chicago’s own Expo Chicago—I woke up to a picture in my Facebook feed, of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, in full Ziggy Stardust make up.

It was accompanied by a PROCLAMATION from the Office of the Mayor/City of Chicago with lots of WHERAS’ celebrating David Bowie’s career and the MCA’s accomplishments in securing the show for its only North American venue, and ending in “NOW, THEREFORE, I, RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR TO THE CITY OF CHICAGO, do hereby proclaim September 23, 2014 to be DAVID BOWIE DAY IN CHICAGO in recognition of the incredible work of David Bowie and urge all Chicagoans to enjoy “David Bowie Is” at the renowned Museum of Contemporary Art.”

It was a first-class prank, of the sort that we have all dreamt of pulling in childhood fantasies of “If I Ruled the World,” and yet it knocked me out, like an NFL player in an elevator. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Time To Go Home

Art Fairs, Oak Park, Photography, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Karen Kilimnik. "the summer house," 2011, water soluble oil color on canvas (Barbara Mathes Gallery, Booth #312)

Karen Kilimnik. “the summer house,” 2011, water soluble oil color on canvas (Barbara Mathes Gallery, Booth #312)

I won’t be going out to the fair today. I imagine, though, that some of the Expo population will find their way out to Oak Park for an opening at the Suburban, for brats, beer, backyard chatter that just might be more about the Packers than an art fair packed to its rafters with haute consumption. From 2pm-4pm, the Chicago area’s favorite run-from-home alt gallery will present Pat Collier, Dennis Kowalski and Drew Heitzler’s work. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to those proportions, that scale, this town.

By late morning on Wednesday, after the unveiling of Judy Ledgerwood’s Florida-inspired billboards, I was enjoying asking “So are you from Chicago?” much more than “Where are you traveling from?” Asked the former, many a gallerina or vaguely multi-ethnic fellow in a flamboyantly patterned shirt would scoff, grunt, answer quickly, “No, I live in New York/LA/not here.” Zachary Cahill told me Friday night that a favorite part of Expo, a quintessential Chicago aspect, is that hike through the mini-mall ruckus that comprises a typical day at Navy Pier. And definitely that stretch before reaching the exhibition hall is a great way to check yourself on how seriously you take any of this. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Figures that Stand Their Ground

Art Fairs, Drawings, Painting No Comments »
GAMA. " Zuflucht (Refuge)," 2014 (Booth #403)

GAMA. ” Zuflucht (Refuge),” 2014 (Booth #403)

Because Expo 2013 was brimming with overpriced abstract condo décor, second-rate Robert Motherwell collages and lukewarm photography, this year I set myself the task of seeking out the best examples of “representational” painting that I could find. Although still lives, portraits and landscapes (even those highly abstracted) don’t really fit the typical art fair mold, I’d think they’d be easier to sell than a painting that says “Fuck Off” or “I Want to Cum in Your Heart.” But what do I know? Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Elise Ferguson Awarded Northern Trust Purchase Prize

Art Fairs, News etc., Painting No Comments »
Elise Ferguson. "Saree"

Elise Ferguson. “Saree”

Northern Trust announced this afternoon that it will purchase a painting by Elise Ferguson for the organization’s permanent collection. Ferguson’s painting “Saree” appears in Romer Young Gallery’s booth (#736). Ferguson has ties to Chicago although she currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She did her art schooling here, earning her BFA from the SAIC and her MFA from UIC. She presented a solo exhibition of paintings similar to the Northern Trust purchase at Romer Young in San Francisco in April of this year. “Saree” is a complexity of interlocking geometric designs in red against a two-tone green surface. Read the rest of this entry »