Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: ABG Artists/Andrew Bae Gallery

Craft Work, Digital Art, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Sculpture No Comments »
Leeah Joo. "Pojagi Dowry," 2015. Oil on canvas.

Leeah Joo. “Pojagi Dowry,” 2015. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches.

RECOMMENDED

The primary theme of this exhibition is alienation, the most elegant expression of which are the ghost-like shoes and dresses of paper and wire woven by Keysook Geum. The people wearing them are missing. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: On Edge: Hard Edge Abstraction/McCormick Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Melanie Pankau. "Holding Patterns #2," 2015. Signed, dated and titled verso, 19 x 18 inches.

Melanie Pankau. “Holding Patterns #2,” 2015. Signed, dated and titled verso, 19 x 18 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Hard, tape-defined edges are not always found in this exhibition, but then they are rarely found in this gallery that specializes in the more spontaneous gestures of Abstract Expressionism. All the lines in Lisa Nankivil’s striped painting may be parallel, but they are also expressively brushed with paint that varies from thick to thin and edges that run from hard to wispy. My attention is attracted to its variations and satisfied by its composition. It offers the horizontal pleasures of landscape painting. Similarly, the distinctive quality of Rodney Carswell’s big red circle is the unevenness rather than the precision of its edges and the areas within them. But the execution of Carswell’s circle feels stultified or inept, especially when compared to the great enso tradition of Zen brush painting.

Unpleasant visual quality is not a deal-breaker in contemporary art. It may deliver confrontational metaphor, which might also explain the ordinariness of John Pittman’s white boxes and Norman Zammitt’s colored stripes. The former suggests empty picture frames, the later is as predictable as a color chart.

Claude Belleudy (French, b. 1938) Untitled acrylic and collage on canvas, 1970 31 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches signed and dated at lower right; signed and annotated “Vence” verso

Claude Belleudy. Untitled, 1970. Acrylic and collage on canvas, 31 3/4 x 25 1/2 inches.

With the visceral joy of painting that these gallery walls usually proclaim, the other eight pieces offer various kinds of visual excitement. In Frank Stella’s lithograph, aggressive polygonal edges bottle up areas of manic mark-making. Melanie Pankau invites the contemplation of the magical space created by adjacent areas of opposing, colorful diagonals. Ellen Cibula has created a much larger meditational field, in a manic, twentieth-century update on the traditional thangka mandala. Perle Fine has adapted elements of Constructivism for sexy self-expression, while Charles Biederman has used them to create something like a corporate logo that’s impressive, though ponderously so.

I was most attracted to the dynamic, mid-century designs of Claude Belleudy and Harold Krisel. Their disruptive sense of balance grabs and holds attention, just like good commercial graphics. A graduate of IIT, Krisel worked in the Bauhaus tradition, while Belleudy echoes the Arcadian fantasies of Matisse. They both put me in a buoyant mood for excessive shopping, even if all I can spend is time. (Chris Miller)

Through February 27 at McCormick Gallery, 835 West Washington.

Eye Exam: Charlotte Moorman’s Network for One

Evanston, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Performance, Photography, Prints No Comments »
Charlotte Moorman performs Nam June Paik’s "TV Cello" wearing "TV Glasses," New York, 1971. /Photo: Takahiko Iimura.

Charlotte Moorman performs Nam June Paik’s “TV Cello” wearing “TV Glasses,” New York, 1971 /Photo: Takahiko Iimura

By Chris Reeves

Among the banquet of actions presented in the Block Museum’s “A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s”—violin-smashing, dress-cutting, sandwich-eating—it might be thumbing through a Rolodex that gets to the crux of this exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Kelly Lloyd/The Sub-Mission

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Noble Square No Comments »
Kelly Lloyd .Installation view of "Gift Baskets by Occasion" at THE SUB-MISSION, 2016.

Kelly Lloyd. Installation view of “Gift Baskets by Occasion” at THE SUB-MISSION, 2016.

RECOMMENDED

The first thing you see when descending the staircase to the Sub-Mission is a two-column list of holidays and occasions. Birthday, Christmas and wedding are three of the twenty-five listed on the gallery wall. One can imagine all the gifts and cards purchased each year to commemorate these events. This overwhelming laundry list of occasions society celebrates or acknowledges sets the tone of Kelly Lloyd’s installation, titled “Gift Baskets by Occasion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: James Krone/Kavi Gupta Gallery

Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Video, West Loop No Comments »
James Krone. Installation view of "An Ornithology for Birds," 2016.

James Krone. Installation view of “An Ornithology for Birds,” 2016.

RECOMMENDED

In 1952, the painter Barnett Newman dismissed philosophical aesthetics by saying: “Even if aesthetics is established as a science, it doesn’t affect me as an artist. I’ve done quite a bit of work in ornithology; I have never met an ornithologist who ever thought that ornithology was for the birds.” Newman later turned his quip into a simple analogy “Aesthetics is for the artist as ornithology is for the birds.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Morley/Beauty & Brawn

Logan Square, Street Art No Comments »
Morley surveying his mural at the Wabash Arts Corridor. /Photo: Sanda Steinbrecher.

Morley surveying his mural at the Wabash Arts Corridor /Photo: Sandra Steinbrecher

Street art contains, at its core, something of the re-appropriation of space; public places for public missives, private spaces for public works. It is this living, often violent relationship with the environment in which it is born that separates street art from its more gallery-, museum- and pedestal-inclined cousins. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bring Your Own Body/Glass Curtain Gallery

Activist Art, Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Performance, Photography, Sculpture, South Loop, Textiles, Video No Comments »
Zackary Drucker. "Southern for Pussy," 2015. Video still.

Zackary Drucker. “Southern for Pussy,” 2015. Video still.

RECOMMENDED

“Bring Your Own Body: Transgender Between Archives and Aesthetics,” currently on view at Glass Curtain Gallery at Columbia College, provides a multilayered experience by featuring works of contemporary transgender artists juxtaposed with archival materials to illustrate the multiplicity of transgender identities as they are represented in the art world, pop culture and institutional discourses. Named after an unpublished manuscript by intersex pioneer Lynn Harris, “Bring Your Own Body” blends historical documents and contemporary art to provide critical perspectives on the ongoing formation of transgender identities. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Kathryn Andrews/Museum of Contemporary Art

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Streeterville No Comments »
Installation view of "Kathryn Andrews: Run for President" at the MCA Chicago. /Photo: Nathan Keay.

Installation view of “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President” at the MCA Chicago/Photo: Nathan Keay

A nineteenth-century general sits atop a mound of skulls. Set against overlapping neon pink and yellow backgrounds (the aluminum support adding an incongruous sheen), the general and his sword, plumed helmet and squat pose summed up a satirical critique of Whig politics in the 1848 Currier & Ives print from which Kathryn Andrews worked. A plexiglass panel along the piece’s right edge reveals the folded costume of the Joker, worn by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s “Batman.” American politics has long been the province of murderous fools, but what, precisely, does Andrews offer in her argot of visual culture? What does it mean to repurpose old satire as new satire?

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Review: Phases of Faces/Jean Albano Gallery

Digital Art, Drawings, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Video No Comments »
Joe Tallarico. "Marold and Haude," 2014. Watercolor, ink and colored pencil, 11 x 15 inches.

Joe Tallarico. “Marold and Haude,” 2014. Watercolor and ink, 11 x 15 inches.

Five decades of the Chicago Imagists tradition are alive and well in “Faces,” the first exhibit of the new year at Jean Albano Gallery. Whether the human face is directly engaging the viewer or part of an entire figure, these faces are far removed from a Rembrandt self-portrait. They evince no naturalism, no idealism, no profound drama, no soul. These are not the faces of people on life’s journey. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Two Rules of Bad Mixtapes

Ceramics, Collage, Craft Work, Design, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Streeterville, Textiles No Comments »
Installation view of "Pop Art Design" at the MCA Chicago. /Photo: Nathan Keay.

Installation view of “Pop Art Design” at the MCA Chicago/Photo: Nathan Keay

By Ruslana Lichtzier

I enjoy thinking about the structure of the museum as a mixtape. Within an expanded taste, different exhibitions are organized with loose connections in an evolving tempo, hopefully with a mutual understanding regarding the role of the institution. Back in the day, mixtapes were a tool of courting; in making one, the mixtape-maker demonstrated how cool they were, how broad, complex, versatile and surprising was their taste. The danger was, and still is, in them exposing themselves as being…well, not cool.

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