Sandra Perlow is a mistress of discontinuities. In her oil paintings, colors clash and shapes are suspended in front of, rather than emerging out of, backgrounds of tentative brushwork. Worked surfaces—Perlow collages woodcuts and monoprints—refute any hint of pictorial depth. Like the great mid-century American painters, Perlow’s abstractions owe something to Matisse and Gorky, while the ruptures she cultivates bring the work into the present. Her dedication to visual art over time has given her the power to move through the painterly problems of modernity into a new set of postmodern formal challenges. The exhibition at Dubhe Carreño is particularly effective because the long narrow space sets up relationships among the paintings and drawings on view.
The surprising array of sociable shapes interacting just shy of narrative space in Perlow’s work also recall the struggles of Guston and some early work of Chicago painter Jim Lutes who, like Perlow, studied at SAIC. Perlow’s communicating shapes find their more sanguine voices in a high key palette that might come from cartoons, flowers or tropical fish rather than the human body. The titles, often throwaway tags and clichés: “Apart From That,” “Fit For Nothing” and “If You Knew” continue the allusion to human relationships while the drifting illuminations and shifting compositions manage to stay just clear of resemblance and representation. Perlow’s exhibition at Dubhe Carreño contributes some important insights to the ad hoc discussion about color and painting taking place in the city this summer among several spaces—the MCA, Gallery 400, and on the street with “Color Jam.” (Janina Ciezadlo)
Through July 14 at Dubhe Carreño Gallery, 118 North Peoria
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