Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Abstraction: A Visual Language/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Linnea Gabriella Spransy. "Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been," 2015 acrylic on canvas, 78" x 72"

Linnea Gabriella Spransy. “Repeat, Like Nothing Ever Has Been,” 2015
acrylic on canvas, 78″ x 72″


Aside from the obvious aesthetic concerns of making objects of lasting beauty, the central problem of abstraction has always been one of style and technique. More specifically, it has been the search for a technique that yields and animates an autographic or signature style as unique as the painter’s vision. It’s a lot harder than it sounds: as evidence, witness the cliché-ridden failures of abstract painting’s supposed “comeback” visible at any given art fair.

All the more reason then to celebrate the seven artists whose works comprise the concentrated, diverse and yet seamlessly integrated “Abstraction: A Visual Language” at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. That these artists are also women is a fact worth highlighting in its own right, but let’s be clear: these are damn good painters first and foremost who make singular works that defy easy categorization. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Claire Sherman/Kavi Gupta

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Claire Sherman. "Rock Wall," 2015 oil on canvas, 84" x 72"

Claire Sherman. “Rock Wall,” 2015
oil on canvas, 84″ x 72″


Paint purists, oil enthusiasts and lovers of all things gooey can get their fix at Kavi Gupta right now. Claire Sherman’s current show, “Funeral Mountain” blends Romantic-era geological drama with mid-century action painting, modernizing it by default in the process. The show is comprised of six large paintings of rock walls and three of caves, each one simple and sophisticated but strikingly generous with its labor and beauty. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Final Days of Packer Schopf Gallery

Galleries & Museums, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Brian Dettmer's current exhibition at a Packer Schopf Gallery, "Antisocial Media." Photo: Sean DiSantis

Brian Dettmer’s current exhibition at a Packer Schopf Gallery, “Antisocial Media.” Photo: Sean DiSantis

After almost nine years working together at Packer Schopf Gallery (PSG), Aron Packer and William Schopf will be dissolving their business partnership as of July 15. Their current exhibition featuring work by Brian Dettmer and Mary Porterfield will be their final project organized together as well as their last show in the West Loop gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jillian Mayer/Aspect/Ratio

Digital Art, Multimedia, Photography, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Jillian mayer. Still from "Touchers," 2015  single channel video, 5:39 minutes, unique installation, dimensions variable

Jillian Mayer. Still from “Touchers,” 2015
single channel video, 5:39 minutes, unique installation, dimensions variable


“Touchers” at Aspect/Ratio and Jillian Mayer’s first solo exhibition in Chicago, highlights the loneliness of seeking affection through a cold screen, the impossibility of human touch across monitors. The artist herself is present in each piece, her hands seen within photosensitive prints on plexiglass and fabric in the front of the gallery, while her image and words exist within the central piece, a video installation in the darkened back room. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mary Porterfield/Packer Schopf

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Mary Porterfield. "Fields of Departure."

Mary Porterfield. “Fields of Departure.”


Mary Porterfield paints nice Western landscapes, or at least that’s how her paintings appear from a distance of twenty-five feet. Mountains in the background, dramatic clouds overhead, and a roaring river running through the middle: it’s all quite conventional, suitable for a hotel near a national park. However, when viewed closely, the sky, earth and water are filled with dozens of faint, ghost-like human figures that seem to inhabit a parallel universe. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Woman Made Gallery Releases Study on Gender Disparities in Commercial Art Galleries

Activist Art, Digital Art, News etc., Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Sydney Snyder's poster for Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

Sydney Snyder’s poster for Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago

To coincide with their current exhibition “The Gallery Tally Poster Project,” Woman Made Gallery (WMG) has issued the release of a report conducted in 2013 regarding gender representation in US commercial galleries. The exhibition is organized by executive director Claudine Isé and Los Angeles artist Micol Hebron and is a social engagement art project, which includes the work of more than 180 artists from all around the world. They not only collected data concerning the ratios of female and male artists in top contemporary art galleries but also visualized it in the form of art, in any medium of their choosing.

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Review: Feminism (n.): Plural/Woman Made Gallery

Multimedia, Photography, Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Frances F. Denny. "Friendship,"  archival pigment print, 32" × 21"

Frances F. Denny. “Across the Universe,”
archival pigment print, 32″ × 21″


“We can all be feminists,” is the emerging motto of today’s feminism, and it rings clear in “Feminism (n.): Plural,” curated by recently appointed director Claudine Isé. The exhibition was inspired by Roxane Gay’s 2014 book “Bad Feminist.” She proclaims, “When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.” The exhibition displays a range of issues pertinent to women today, across borders, race, age and personal experience. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Ian Pedigo/65GRAND

Digital Art, Installation, Photography, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Ian Pedigo, "Lights Have Gone Out," 2015 bone, plastic, metal, wood, paint, carpet, 60" x 65" x 30"

Ian Pedigo, “Lights Have Gone Out,” 2015
bone, plastic, metal, wood, paint, carpet, 60″ x 65″ x 30″


Using found quotidian materials, Ian Pedigo assembles sculptural installations that lyricize banal details of our domestic and built environments. In his exhibition at 65Grand, “The Arrows Like Soft Moon Beams,” the New York-based artist reveals three larger-than-human-size totems which nod to Surrealism and resonate particularly well in Chicago, with its rich culture of spaces (6018North) and makers (Alberto Aguilar, Edra Soto) who turn the domestic into the poetic. In “From the Crown to the Earth” a six-foot-tall panel of black stone grounds the playful figural arrangement of a green plastic bowl lampshade with dangling disco ball earrings. Another grouping converts disembodied chair legs into a wing-like form, hung from a floorboard suspended upside down with a backdrop of blinds. “Lights Have Gone Out” features a candelabra painted matte-black which is simultaneously real, faux, classic and kitsch. Pedigo combines elements from different time periods and vacillates between natural and artificial materials, resulting in both visual stimulation and a sense of suspended timelessness.
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Review: Aimée Beaubien/Johalla Projects

Installation, Photography, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Aimeé Beaubien's "Twist-flip-tremble-trace" at Johalla Projects

Installation view of Aimeé Beaubien’s “Twist-flip-tremble-trace” at Johalla Projects


There is a video-game term that applies to art making, called “leveling up.” It’s when you make it to the next round, when you discover something game-changing, when you go out on a limb and make such a big step in the right direction that you are suddenly on a higher plane. You leveled up.

Local photographer Aimée Beaubien leveled up with her new body of work, “Twist-flip-tremble-trace.” She took her collages off the wall, weaving strips of photographs together to create the effect of psychedelic cobwebs, held together with dowels and clothespins so that they stand up and command space in the room. These Wonderlandian creatures are precariously perched on cartoonish furniture—an orange painted ironing board, a mirrored pedestal, a low, hot pink table, often incorporating ceramic jugs and glass bottles. Smaller works sit on shelves and hang on the walls, including some new, two-dimensional works, acting as satellites to their larger counterparts. The result is a dizzying installation of optically wiggling, animal-like forms. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Gordon Matta-Clark/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Collage, Photography, West Loop No Comments »
Gordon Matta-Clark. "Circus," 1978 silver dye bleach print (Cibachrome), 29 1/4" x 73 1/4"

Gordon Matta-Clark. “Circus,” 1978
silver dye bleach print (Cibachrome), 29 1/4″ x 73 1/4″


In 1978, the Museum of Contemporary Art commissioned artist Gordon Matta-Clark to execute one of his trademark “building cut” projects in a recently acquired brownstone on Ontario Street. The result, “Circus or The Caribbean Orange,” a series of large-scale circular lacerations that radically altered the structure’s interior, would sadly be the artist’s last major statement before his untimely death at age thirty-five. What remains of the epic scale of this ephemeral project are a series of the artist’s captivating photocollages. Read the rest of this entry »