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Review: Justyna Adamczyk/EC Gallery

Painting, West Loop Add comments

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Justyna’a Adamczyk’s “New Paintings” is a taut, elegant show of eight roughly similar paintings from 2009. They are all the same size, 23.5 by 27.5 inches, and the same material, washed-out acrylic on linen. They all embrace white space and, at their best, simplicity. They also seem to represent a journey, taken clockwise around the gallery, of an artist discovering and developing her strength. “Sztukas” is the title of the first work, which is an apparently untranslatable Polish word meaning… “something untranslatable.” An opaque white cloud—noteworthy for the absence of opaque forms—rains down a tangle of vines that might festoon a ceramic tile or a teapot, engendering an initial fear that the work is too decorative, too crafty; a fear that is then gradually dismissed. By painting the final painting, “Seriously…,” any sign of the stiff knick-knackery is gone, replaced by two dark washes of varying opacity. A large blob reads as a torso. A second, thicker blob is an ominous, even brutal shape, like a bird pecking out the eyes of a dead man or thoughts forcibly escaping the brain and turning into a comic thought-bubble, mocking and cruel. In between these two extremes is the transition, with each work selectively adding and subtracting elements, searching for the best fit. Cutesy lipstick puckers and seashells are first allowed to exist alone, before being met with threats of violence. The tchotchkes then disappear altogether, but for the remnant bloody splash, and finally a vague remembrance. Adamczyk’s process hones the work to its finest point of expression, leaving me with hopes of the next works to come. (Erik Wennermark)

Through February 13 at EC Gallery, 215 N. Aberdeen

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