It’s time to call off the search for “new areas of possibility within the known confines of painting.” Congruent with the mission of marketing consumer goods (including art), that is the stated goal of this exhibition, but all that it has found are the usual collection of techniques and strategies found in contemporary academic art. The strongest claim for novelty might be Anna Kunz’s installation of paint on porous fabric, but the banal results clutter the corner of an already aesthetically challenged institutional space. Some of the other art would look better in other contexts. Sherwin Ovid’s paint-skin-over-canvas “ceramics” would benefit from being hung at eye level instead of above the door, while Steven Husby’s calligraphic geoform and Craig Yu’s nocturnal landscape would greatly benefit from proximity to the rest of their work.
On the other hand, the contrasting work of three remarkable women complement each other quite nicely. Rebecca Shore has chosen to follow the Chicago Imagists. Her work has the fragmentary precision of Ray Yoshida and the repressed sexuality of Christina Ramberg. Both pieces suggest a female torso whimsically transposed into a mechanical drawing. She has co-opted the tireless energy of industrial production for a feminine presence, with just a hint of self-deprecating humor.
The piece by Magalie Guérin feels no less precise, though it is defined by scraping and rubbing to a variety of edges that feel like the consequences of hard fought self-examination. The resulting image suggests a human face as seen from behind. Its beauty is that of inner strength as unshakable as a mountain range.
In contrast to both of the above, Leslie Baum ignores herself in pursuit of mystic beauty. Equilateral triangles, inherently mysterious, are enhanced with the kind of lush, decorative designs for which Scandinavian fabrics are justly celebrated, exemplifying the happiness of a well-ordered and sensual life. She has created a kind of meditation center by leaning one of her ornate triangles against the wall in front of an ornate cushion on which viewers may sit.
These women offer three successful strategies for living, as well as making art. (Chris Miller)
Through July 29 at Cleve Carney Art Gallery, 425 Fawell Boulevard, Glen Ellyn