“Suspend” focuses on the work of five contemporary female painters working in various modes of deconstruction: from flat surfaces and geometric patterning to painterly landscapes and aggressive gestures. That the work is not immediately “feminine” is to its credit—it holds up as a legitimate counterpoint to all-boys shows, like the one currently at neighbor 65 Grand, without expressionistic angst or self-conscious posturing.
Michelle Bolinger’s creamy built-up canvases with passages of stippled impasto are the most developed paintings in the show. The inclusion of “I’ve been through the desert (second)” with “The Frontier” is an excellent opportunity to compare the effects of her multimedia (oil, graphite and colored pencil) technique on both paper and canvas. “Frontier” has a dawn snow-like, aurora borealis luminosity that every Chicagoan will easily identify. Clare Gill’s paintings are almost representational, and though flames in “Smoke Signals” are admirably burnished and fiery, there is an awkward patchwork-effect in the others that suggests an internal dissatisfaction with a singular style or manner. Aliza Morell seems more settled with a series of paintings that could be about light and space, but are equally plausible ‘80s disco quilting patterns. Although this variety fuels the show’s interest, there is a remarkable coherency to the selection of paintings, a testament to the power of good editing. Also showing Stacie Johnson and Kimberly Towbridge. (Rachel Furnari)
Through February 14 at Roots & Culture, 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave.