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Review: Scott Fife and Todd Chilton/Tony Wight Gallery

Painting, Sculpture, West Loop Add comments

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Todd Chilton’s paintings offer a broken geometry rendered in a handmade manner. Drips escape certain strokes and imperfections allow the composition to shift slightly. The canvases are variations on repeating geometric (almost fractal) patterns, emanating from the center but bound to and by the edges. Paintings such as “Untitled (blue diamonds)” have a shallow crystalline topography that the perceptual properties of color serve to deepen and heighten. These structures grow more intricate and exaggerated in his canvases from 2009. Chilton’s color is often optically charged as in his zebra-striped canvases where the boundary between the striped regions form an optical illusion. With Chilton’s canvases you can feel yourself looking, and you can see Chilton’s hand in painting. The result is a tenuous exchange between the painting and the viewer that never quite fully assembles into a concrete meaning.

Scott Fife crafts iconographic busts from familiar materials such as cardboard, wood glue and drywall screws. Four large heads protrude from the gallery walls looming slightly above eye level. Possibly with an eye toward the imminent inauguration, Fife includes a young Abraham Lincoln. Also present is a hot pink Cassius Clay and two busts of artist Ed Kienholz. The disembodied heads are authoritative, imposing and a touch monumental. Hollows exist in each face that that allow an interior view of the overall structure. Fife allows his materials to exist in a dual state of transformation simultaneously as cardboard and as persona. Each figure’s visage, combined with the familiarity of the materials, creates a distinctly palpable sense of their own hollow, mask-like forms. (Dan Gunn)

Through February 21 at Tony Wight Gallery, 119 N. Peoria.

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