At the stroke of midnight on the twelfth of December, after twenty-five days of uninhibited twenty-four-hour activity, New Capital ended an ambitious exhibitionary undertaking and with it their two-year tenure as the cornerstone of a cluster of alternative contemporary art spaces on Chicago’s far West Side. Titled “24 Hrs/25 Days,” the durational exhibition project was a cacophony of immeasurable production and accelerated activity on display. New Capital founders Chelsea Culp and Ben Foch facilitated dozens of artists and collaborators in the continuous production of short-run exhibitions and performances at the bi-level warehouse gallery. New Capital’s visiting public was provided twenty-four hour access to the development and staging of this program. [Read more…]
Search Results for: Julia V. Hendrickson
The mantra of “Nulla dies sine linea” (“Not one day without a line”) has inspired and motivated artists and writers for centuries as a reminder that an artist’s skill and a successful work of art must come from daily practice. Pliny the Elder penned the Latin proverb in ancient Rome, Anthony Trollope advised the phrase to aspiring writers in the nineteenth century and Whistler inscribed a drawing in his diary with the same line as a personal reminder.
At the Instituto Cervantes, Madrid-based gallerist Blanca Soto brings together twenty-three artists from Spain on the premise of this proverb, attempting to elevate the “underestimated art” of drawing and showcase contemporary Spanish works on paper. For such grandiose aims, the net cast is not very wide, for over half of the artists also happen to be represented by Galería Blanca Soto. “Nulla Dies Sine Linea” has a curatorial premise that is vague and flimsy, at best. The long halls and small gallery of the Spanish cultural center and language school are crowded with an overwhelming number of drawings that have little in common but an amateur hand and a questionable lineage from graphic street art. The drawings on display encompass a range from over the last decade, and strangely, Soto has chosen early, less confident works from artists like Sofía Jack who have matured more gracefully than is evident from this exhibition.
However, amidst the fray, conscientious diligence does make an appearance. [Read more…]
By Julia V. Hendrickson
Comic and cartoon artists work quietly but profusely in Chicago, drawn, perhaps, to the functionality of its gridded streets, city blocks like frames on a page. Comic book and specialty bookstores like Quimby’s and Challengers flourish because there is an audience for experimental narratives and a vibrant community surrounding comic art. In reaction to such public interest, January brings a flurry of exhibitions related to comic and sequential narrative art.
For those interested in historical context, the Block Museum in Evanston offers a small but superb collection of prints in “The Satirical Edge,” with work from the 1950s to the present, all using graphic comic and cartoon imagery for socio-political commentary. The majority of this collection features a group of artists, the “Outlaw Printmakers,” who were part of a 2004 exhibition at Big Cat Gallery in New York. Most striking are Tom Huck’s series of small-town narratives depicted in large, hypnotically intricate woodcuts. A handful of R. Crumb comic books from the early 1970s are the only direct connection to comics, but the influence of comic art is evident in works like Richard Mock’s bug-eyed linocuts and Enrique Chagoya’s collaged accordion book.
Chagoya’s newer work is also prominently displayed, and includes an etching from his latest edition, a dancing, demon-chased Obama, a subtle revision of Goya’s “Los Caprichos.” The Block aptly compliments the “Satirical Edge” with a concurrent exhibition of prints by eighteenth-century caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Rowlandson. [Read more…]
After a splash on the London art scene in the 1990s, and an infamous controversy regarding elephant dung and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, painter Chris Ofili quietly relocated to Trinidad in 2005 to remove himself from politics and focus on his art. The Tate Britain, which also presented Ofili with the prestigious Turner Prize in 1998, held a mid-career retrospective of his work earlier this year. With Ofili’s current exhibition, “Afrotranslinear,” The Arts Club presents a more specific survey of more than 100 works on paper created over the last decade.
“Afrotranslinear” is the first Chicago exhibition of Ofili’s art, and his graphic, cartoonish figures present a 1960s and seventies style that aligns remarkably well with Chicago Imagist art. This may be the simplest, most restrained work of Ofili’s to date. As in his most recognizable paintings, his hand still strays toward the intricate and adorned. Yet, in his bright, flat watercolor portraits, and with a reduced palette in his graphite drawings, it is easier to notice the simple beauty and thoughtful humor in his work. With vibrant colors reflecting tropical Trinidad, Ofili’s lush watercolor portraits are crude in execution, yet purposeful in hue. Local flora is inseparable from the portraits, as the brightly patterned clothes seem to grow from the base of the page, flowering in the figures’ heads. The Arts Club’s choice to present solely Ofili’s works on paper is a significant one; they get all of the flashy, secret thrills of “that shit artist” with none of the obvious, immediate scandal. [Read more…]
Under the broad umbrella of falsely representational art, seven artists from Austin, Chicago and New York are situated within the tidy, manicured apartment rooms of The Exhibition Agency. Housed in the same space as the short-lived Concertina Gallery, Corinna Kirsch’s newest curatorial project brings together a pleasant array of sculpture, photography, painting, video and sound, many of which reuse functional materials in slyly unexpected ways.
The show’s title comes from a line in a Wallace Stevens poem, “Le Monocle de Mon Oncle” (1918), and serves as Kirsch’s link between the works. With the title she proposes that representative art is an overused, “crumpled thing,” but that these seven artists in particular have uniquely attempted to grapple with creating new methods of representing reality. The strangest and most compelling revisions of representation in this exhibition can be seen in the work of Anna Krachey and Christopher Bradley. Krachey’s visceral, sexualized photographs, “Bonobo” and “Floral Market,” depict fleshy objects obscured by a crumpled, semi-transparent plastic film. Bradley, with “Stupid #2,” has created an absurd sculpture of precariously placed paint rollers and beer bottles, grounded by a man’s right shoe. A constant stream of water shoots from the center of the piece into a cooler filled with empty beer bottles on the floor. Amidst these functional objects, the shoe enables us to see a human representation, and thus it becomes—crudely—a portrait of a man taking a piss in the middle of the room. (Julia V. Hendrickson)
Through September 25 at The Exhibition Agency, 2351 North Milwaukee, second floor
For the time being, Ray Noland has set up camp in Pilsen, covering the walls of the cavernous Chicago Urban Art Society (CUAS) with his graphic stencils and posters. Noland’s “Sweet Tea & American Values” is the first exhibition to christen the non-profit’s new 4,200 square-foot space run by siblings Lauren Pacheco and Peter Kepha.
Noland’s work is unabashedly political. He skewers celebrities, musicians, politicians and assumptions about race and gender, all with equal abandon. It’s clear that Noland was working through a lot of ideas for “Sweet Tea,” riffing on old imagery, alongside new works created with the CUAS space in mind. According to the artist, almost three-quarters of the work is new (the rest is comprised of his Obama posters and the iconic “Go Tell Mama” series). With the flexibility and sense of experimentation that portends a good future for CUAS, the directors gave Noland the opportunity to work (and occasionally sleep) in the gallery for a month prior to the opening. [Read more…]
Despite a prolific output of work, this is Judy Pfaff’s first solo exhibition in Chicago. For a large part of her career, Pfaff has been known for her pioneering installations and sculpture. However, in recent decades there has been a marked transition within her work.
In a 1998 interview with Richard Whittaker, Pfaff describes this transition as a shift from the exterior to an “interior landscape.” A 2004 MacArthur grant also spurred changes and increased production in Pfaff’s work. With the unrestricted grant she acquired five acres of land in upstate New York, a staggering amount of studio space, and legions of assembling assistants. [Read more…]