Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Bill Frederick/Printworks Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Bill Frederick. "Lightning, Port Austin," 2015 watercolor and ink, 38" x 71"

Bill Frederick. “Lightning, Port Austin,” 2015 watercolor and ink, 38″ x 71″


Bill Frederick takes us on a Midwestern road trip. But as in his previous shows, rather than showing us unusual or scenic vistas, we get the ordinary places that are impossible to avoid, like gas stations and strip-mall parking lots. Landscape painting usually offers an escape from the daily grind, where the human footprint, if any, fits smoothly into the natural order of things. But Frederick’s landscapes do not escape the jagged ends of human existence, and no matter how deep into the north woods he drives, he never gets far from the car. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jungjin Lee/Andrew Bae Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Jungjin Lee. "Unnamed Road 014," 2011 archival pigment print  40 x 78.5 inches Ed. of 3

Jungjin Lee. “Unnamed Road 014,” 2011
archival pigment print, 40 x 78.5 inches, ed. of 3


Printing her large-format black-and-white landscape photographs on Korean rice paper, on which she has meticulously and elegantly brushed photographic emulsion, and then made digital prints of the images, Jungjin Lee produces haunting and faded yet distinct impressions of the deserts of Israel and the West Bank of Palestine in her “Unnamed Roads” series. There is not a hint of the political conflict that wracks the region in Lee’s work. Indeed, she has removed as much context as possible from her images by naming each one with only the exhibition’s title, although they sometimes depict cities, ruins and distinctive rock formations. Lee’s point is that current events are merely rippling sand swirls on the surface of an immovable human condition, in which past contingencies leave their marks that are subsumed under persistent particularized forms that she captures with her view camera. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: John Gossage/Stephen Daiter Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
John Gossage. "Wihelmstr., (Berlin in the Time of the Wall)," 1988

John Gossage. “Wihelmstr., (Berlin in the Time of the Wall),” 1988


A visual poet, practicing photography in the classical modernist tradition of straight urban street studies, John Gossage has continued that line for more than three decades, not so much altering the genre as adding to its richness with technical embellishments and by projecting his particular sensibility into his images. Among Gossage’s many bodies of work, gallerist Stephen Daiter has chosen to display the artist’s black-and-white silver gelatin impressions of Berlin, Germany in the 1980s, and his current series of color photos, shot in Italy, of found arrangements of common objects—recalling still lifes—with a decidedly ramshackle and disordered look. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Identify/Catherine Edelman Gallery

Digital Art, Installation, Photography, River North No Comments »
Garth and Pierre. "HEAD(S)," 2014 photographs mounted to bank pins

Garth and Pierre. “HEAD(S),” 2014
photographs mounted to bank pins


Among the four wildly diverse approaches to representing the human body photographically on display here, Heather Dewey-Hagborg’s is the most inventive, although not the most meaningful. Dewey-Hagborg picks up cigarette butts and discarded chewing gum off the city sidewalks (depicted in her color shots), subjects the detritus to DNA analysis, runs the genetic profiles through a facial algorithm, and produces 3D resin portraits that presumably resemble the people who left the remains of their consumption for the scavenger-artist to appropriate (the droppings also grace her mini-installation). The three particular subjects whose faces look out at us from the gallery wall are all young, attractive and relentlessly clean, with an airbrushed appearance that belies the butts and gum from which they have been reconstructed. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Trevor Winkfield/Poetry Foundation

Collage, Drawings, Painting, River North 1 Comment »
Trevor Winkfield. "Sketch for Peter Gizzi," 2012 acrylic and collage on paper, 27.5" x 19.25"

Trevor Winkfield. “Sketch for Peter Gizzi,” 2012
acrylic and collage on paper, 27.5″ x 19.25″


Set in the smart spaces of the Poetry Foundation, this exhibition of the British artist-illustrator Trevor Winkfield (born 1944) highlights his paintings, cover designs and limited-edition books. It’s a small-scale show—five paintings and four vitrines—but the bright, punchy images are themselves like welcome book illustrations against the ashen modernist environment of the still-newish John Ronan building.

Winkfield’s mother read picture books to him as a tot. Afterwards texts always provoked accompanying images from him. Raised in Leeds, he came to America in 1969 and quickly became part of the collaboration-happy New York School. Not “merely a brush for hire,” he said, he had true partnerships with major poets like Ron Padgett and John Ashbery. Collaboration, he reflected, was “one of the quickest ways of allowing me to see myself as others saw me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Erik Weisenburger/Perimeter Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Erik Weisenburger. "Fourteen Point Staghorn Sumac," 2014 oil on panel

Erik Weisenburger. “Fourteen Point Staghorn Sumac,” 2014
oil on panel


These sixteen visions of life in the north woods take us into that cheerfully lonely natural world once celebrated in Thoreau’s “Walden.” But there’s more whimsy than morality here, with no sense of the heroic in either the rustic environment or the souls who inhabit it. Erik Weisenburger’s technique is more about building an imaginative oil painting in the studio than in re-experiencing a view of actual fields and woods. His images glow with the inner light of early Northern European painting, and share that genre’s fanatical attention to detail, as if infinite time had been taken to perfect the design and execution of every square inch. No act of concentrated focus goes unrewarded. As with early German painters like Albrecht Altdorfer, he often offers the delicious effect of black, tangled, sharply drawn branches silhouetted against a glowing blue sky. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: 25th Anniversary/Schneider Gallery

Photography, River North No Comments »
Cornelia Hediger. "05.29.10," C-Print, 30x30"

Cornelia Hediger. “05.29.10,”
C-Print, 30″ x 30″


A look at the fifteen photo-artists whom gallerist Martha Schneider has included in her twenty-fifth anniversary show, which ends her run at Franklin Street before she moves to 770 North Lasalle in 2015, reveals how her space has provided Chicagoans with the singular opportunity to see consistently the most advanced photography from throughout the world. The works here are representative of those of the hundreds of artists whom Schneider has shown: edgy, masterful in technique, and often shot through with existential emotions or depth-psychological import. Schneider has presented the existentialist side over the years particularly through Argentine photographers, whose country’s elite culture was smitten by that movement, which matched the native temperament. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Sandro Miller/Catherine Edelman

Photography, River North No Comments »
Sandro Miller. "Annie Leibovitz / John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1980)," 2014

Sandro Miller. “Annie Leibovitz / John Lennon and Yoko Ono (1980),” 2014

Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich. Take a famous sixty-year-old actor and substitute him for the subjects of well-known, mainly celebrity, photographic portraits, duplicating the original scenarios as precisely as possible in the studio; shoot the setup, and you have Sandro Miller’s conceit in his collaboration with John Malkovich. It is somewhat dizzying to contemplate images that are at three removes from real human beings, who have morphed into images crafted by teams of managers that have been further altered by a gifted photographer, and that have finally been subverted by another celebrity who is simulating the original celebrity-images to humorous effect, whether intentional or not.

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Review: Christian Vincent/Ann Nathan Gallery

Painting, River North No Comments »
Christian Vincent. "Peninsula," oil on canvas

Christian Vincent. “Peninsula,” oil on canvas

Christian Vincent’s recent figurative paintings are 2,000 miles removed from what has characterized Chicago figure painting for the past fifty years: invitational instead of confrontational, gently thematic instead of intensely personal, conventional instead of weird, cinematic instead of graphic, pleasant instead of disturbing. Painted in Los Angeles, they might even serve as storyboards for a Hollywood teenage romantic comedy. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Carlos Javier Ortiz/David Weinberg Photography

Photography, River North No Comments »
Carlos Javier Ortiz. "Untitled," 2009, archival pigment print, 24" x 36"

Carlos Javier Ortiz. “Untitled,” 2009, archival pigment print, 24″ x 36″


The real protagonists of Carlos Javier Ortiz’s black-and-white photo-documentary of the impact of gun violence in American cities today are the neighborhoods where it happens and is felt most directly. “We All We Got” is comprised of images of funerals, vigils, grieving families, commemorative artifacts, detention lock-ups, crime scenes and much more to create a comprehensive visual grasp of the phenomenon; but the places themselves and the sense of the stark realism of everyday life there overtake all the details. Read the rest of this entry »