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Review: Luke Dowd/Tony Wight Gallery

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ld_untitled1Luke Dowd’s show “Happy Happy Sad Sad” is almost as simple as its title, comprised of a number of screen prints that depict close-ups of cut diamonds, mostly patterned but sometimes randomly placed in the composition. Perhaps the most impressive quality of these prints is the way they appear to reflect light, in a trompe l’oeil that draws attention to the artificial nature of a mechanically enhanced diamond (or at least its market value). Most of the prints appropriate a single color or two along with the black-and-white figures, but the most interesting ones make use of several bright hues in both foreground and background, where their placement can be additionally evocative—for example, one print includes the magenta, yellow, and teal of newsprint’s colored ink, evoking mass reproduction. Reproduction and the construction of uniformity in natural and man-made objects is of course the major trope of the show, so that the iteration and repetition marking the compositions is clever. And it’s witty, if not overly original, of Dowd to depict the diamond, an ultimate fetishized object of consumer desire, on another fetishized commodity, the screen print itself. However, the show is frankly fairly boring, as the prints are as uniform as wallpaper, where the obvious but unmistakable influence of Andy Warhol additionally dulls the experience. Ultimately the show offers little in the way of a site for critical intervention of “value,” as represented by the diamond, and the grouping of prints so similar is no more engaging than a single one would be. (Monica Westin)

Through May 30 at Tony Wight Gallery, 119 N. Peoria

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