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Review: Joy Episalla and Michael Antkowiak/Carrie Secrist Gallery

Painting, Photography, West Loop Add comments

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With “Medium Cool” Carrie Secrist Gallery continues its practice of naming shows after Hollywood movies. Both Joy Episalla and Michael Antkowiak were featured in last summer’s “The Last Seduction,” which gathered together many disparate not-to-be-missed pieces under the vague theme of “A Welcome Surrender to Beauty.” “Medium Cool” is a more coherent show. The title alludes not only to the 1970 Haskell Wexler film, but also the very quotable Marshall McLuhan, who called “cool” those media that require mental effort and attention. He also said that artists “are always the first to discover how to enable one medium or to release the power of another,” and this is a good way to think about the artists on view. Episalla’s photos reflections in hotel TV screens are a rich mine of imagery, and they show an everyday reality haunted by globalization. “TV#7 (Houston)” shows the same dark interior as any other Hilton hotel room in the world while the metallic brightness of a day in Texas rages outside. “TV#4 (Amsterdam)” is a peek outside an Amsterdam window at another reflecting surface that reveals part of a city building in the distance, presenting space as a ramifying labyrinth through which light somehow finds a way. Antkowiak’s paintings show intimate, human spaces in a palette limited to purple, gold, olive greens and black. “Bedroom 1” from 2007 records the light in a bedroom and a body caught in its moment. Both of these artists have rendered intimate, inhabitable space that is both familiar and ghostly. (David Mark Wise)

Through April 12 at  Carrie Secrist Gallery, 835 W. Washington.

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