Walking into the heat and light generated by Judy Ledgerwood’s “Chromatic Patterns for Chicago” from the cold, bleak street in January is one of the best parts of her exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Ledgerwood deftly appropriates Color Field abstraction’s scale and subsequent power to activate space and affect viewers by drenching Hoffman’s front room in prismatic vibrations. Two large paintings applied directly to opposite walls of the gallery (one wraps around the corner) transform the cold cube into a temporary souk. Fully saturated hot pink, manganese, royal blue, silver and copper is applied in wide horizontal bands, which curve slightly to reference the drape of textiles, while also emphasizing the flatness of paint on plaster with an overlaid simple pattern of flowers and crossed lines. There is a generative tension between the spontaneous, not-taking-itself-too-seriously quality of her hand-drawn patterns and the very carefully worked out interactions of color that belie their apparent insouciance.
The dyed-urethane foam blobs (Blob Paintings) displayed in another gallery have some of the same improvisational energy, but the space-altering power of the paintings is gone, even though the gallery cheat sheet tries to stir up interest by making a point of their genesis in the performance of working with the material. A large conglomeration of blobs looks like a toad, but the heat and decorative generosity of the wall paintings is lost in the smaller sculptural work. (Janina Ciezadlo)
Through February 18 at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 118 North Peoria.
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