Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Kim Piotrowski/Linda Warren Projects

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Kim Piotrowski. "Tide Tango, 2014, ink and flashe on gallery wall

Kim Piotrowski. “Tide Tango, 2014, ink and flashe on gallery wall

RECOMMENDED

The sheer intensity and level of attack sustained in painter Kim Piotrowski’s first solo show with Linda Warren Projects remained palpable days after I viewed it. In art, first impressions aren’t always reliable, and exhibitions that linger on in the back of your mind usually signal something deeper. Maybe what you initially thought was good really wasn’t, and what looked like failure was actually success in disguise.

Packed with evocative titles and equally suggestive shapes, the show’s twenty-plus works heave and ripple, yielding a sensory overload of glistening bodies enmeshed in an orgy of pleasure. Piotrowski’s slick black line is almost always upfront, potent and seductive, whipping the eye through multi-hued compositions while exposing fragmentary glimpses of any number of vaguely recognizable objects. In the wrong hands, this is the stuff of clichéd, rapidly deployed, easy-bake abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Blah Blah Blah, Bright Inclusions in Expo and Edition, and Champagne Bubbles

Art Fairs, Collage, Installation, Painting, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, West Loop 1 Comment »
Eric May. "Eat in the Streets," 2011

Eric May. “Eat in the Streets,” 2011 (Booth #740)

Bag of raw almonds for energy boost, false lashes stowed in my handbag for evening-wear eye-drama boost, press badge and a prayer for stamina: Expo Chicago’s press preview yesterday rolled directly into the Vernissage party that dispersed across town to a boat party, a disco dance and dishes of art world gossip: which gallery’s staff is jumping ship? who’s leaving their long-term gallery representation? who’s been exploring her ‘lesbian side’? who’s pregnant? and so on. Thursday’s kickoff to the fair was over-stimulating and today’s shaping up the same. I stopped for lunch and worked out some thoughts about patterns in the artworks exhibited, highlights and rare occasions for profundity for Expo visitors who are art lovers if not big-time collectors. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Your Fair Survival Guide and Must-See Itinerary

Activist Art, Art Fairs, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Performance, Public Art, West Loop No Comments »
Ai Weiwei. "Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads" installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

Ai Weiwei. “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installed at the Adler Planetarium. Photo Credit: Natalia Salazar / Chicago Park District

The third year of The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art (EXPO) is upon us. There is much to be seen this weekend both on and off the Pier, but no one can do it all. (I had a hard time even getting through the encyclopedic press materials in a timely manner.) So strap on your sensible shoes, paint your face like Ziggy Stardust, and keep your eyes peeled for Shaq; here are my recommendations, must-sees and predictions for what’s most likely to elicit schadenfreude.

Tickets are $20 for a one-day pass or $30 for the weekend. The fair is open 11am-7pm Friday and Saturday and 11am-6pm Sunday. Unless otherwise noted, all events are taking place at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 East Grand). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Bryan Zanisnik/Aspect/Ratio

Installation, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Bryan Zanisnik. "Aquarium Painting,"  2014, still from 2 channel HD video, 3 minutes 21 seconds

Bryan Zanisnik. “Aquarium Painting,”
2014, still from 2 channel HD video, 3 minutes 21 seconds

RECOMMENDED

Newly opened at Aspect/Ratio, an exhibition by New York artist Bryan Zanisnik considers the relatively compact space of its gallery as it presents viewers with scaled-down versions of the artist’s practice. Zanisnik, known for his large-scale installations of discarded paraphernalia that strongly reference suburban kitsch and are arranged to create chaotic yet aesthetically pleasing sculptures, gives us a taste of his interests in this show—absurdity, humor and family, infused with a nostalgia for the past. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: New Image Painting/Shane Campbell Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Nick Schutzenhofer. "Untitled," 2014, egg tempura on paper mounted to canvas, 29 1/8h x 23 1/8w in.

Nick Schutzenhofer. “Untitled,” 2014, egg tempera on paper mounted to canvas,
29 1/8h x 23 1/8w in.

RECOMMENDED

Featuring fifteen artists and an incendiary press release that decries what it sees as the preeminence of “soulless” and “anemic” abstraction, “New Image Painting” at Shane Campbell Gallery is a stinging riposte to the kind of contemporary abstract painting that merely serves as “a placeholder for value” and “needs to get out of the way.” In its place, the show presents an alternative vision of art’s recent past that locates figuration and personal narrative front and center.

Many of the thirty paintings on display are self-consciously “bad” in the sense that multiple artists’ seek spatial and proportional “incorrectness” as a means of arriving at visual authenticity. Henry Taylor’s “Where are my brothers keepers” and Torey Thornton’s “Barged Gator” are ham-fisted in their depiction of figures, boats and busses. But their superficial clumsiness, which can be traced back to Matisse via Guston, belies a compositional sophistication that is studied and—paradoxically—abstract. Similarly, William J. O’Brien’s playful works on paper trade in the kind of frenzied “my kid could do that” aesthetic that baffles casual viewers, but delights connoisseurs of gestural abstraction. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Kavi Gupta Opens Art Bookstore in West Loop

Art Books, Comics, News etc., West Loop No Comments »
Kavi Gupta Gallery's new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery’s new bookstore space Editions

Kavi Gupta Gallery (KGG) has announced that it will open Editions (not to be confused with Edition, the satellite art fair held in the West Loop during Expo Chicago), a curated art bookstore, next Friday, September 19 with a book launch for “Seen/Unseen” a new artist book project by Tavares Strachan. Editions will feature monographs, zines, theory and criticism, as well as rare artist editions and out-of-print art books by major contemporary artists. The store will carry books that KGG has played some part in producing, as well as work by artists on their roster including blanket, tote bag and plate editions by Mickalene Thomas; a 3D-printed rock produced by Glenn Kaino for the occasion of his exhibition at the gallery’s 219 North Elizabeth Street location; placemats designed by Jessica Stockholder; and artist books by Scott Treleaven. Along with art-theory powerhouses like semiotext(e), Editions will stock books from local publishers including Green Lantern Press, Poor Farm Press and Sara Ranchouse. The store is located in the same building as Kavi Gupta’s space at 835 West Washington, just down the hall from their exhibition space. Read the rest of this entry »

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4–7 [updated]

Andersonville, Bronzeville, Collage, Drawings, Edgewater, Evanston, Fall Preview, Garfield Park, Installation, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Sculpture, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Video, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Andrew Falkowski. "Pink Monochrome," 2014

Andrew Falkowski. “Pink Monochrome,” 2014

Thursday, September 4


LOOP

Dan Ramirez, painting
Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson
Opening reception: 5:30pm-7pm, through September 30
(Members only opening, viewing by appointment only)

SUBURBS

Anthony Iacuzzi and Christopher Schneberger, photography
Perspective Gallery, 1310-1/2B Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Opening reception: 5pm-8pm, through September 28

Amy Vogel, mixed-media survey exhibition
Cleve Carney Art Gallery at College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn
Opening reception: 12pm-2pm, through October 25

Taehoon Kim and Barbara Diener, large scale sculpture and photographic installation
Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 West College, Palos Hills
Opening reception: 3pm–5pm, through September 18 and October 23 respectively Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Norman Zammitt/Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Norman Zammitt. "Red to Green I," acrylic on canvas board, 1979

Norman Zammitt. “Red to Green I,” acrylic on canvas board, 1979

RECOMMENDED

Why does the evocation of light from painting pervade the medium’s extensive history? It seems like a nonstarter to grind up and smear colored mud across a substrate in the attempt to produce luminosity. While peers in the loosely delineated movement of Light and Space in California from the 1960s onward abandoned painting in favor of more immaterial installation strategies, Norman Zammitt made a career of reasoned, deliberate canvases informed by floaty sensorial aspirations. His small paintings at Andrew Rafacz are rewarding to viewers precisely because of the tension between their physicality and the optical trickery that their composed horizontal bands of nuanced color excite in the eyes of viewers. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Valpuri Kylmänen and Ari Pelkonen/Western Exhibitions

Installation, Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of "Helsingistä" at Western Exhibitions

Installation view of “Helsingistä” at Western Exhibitions

RECOMMENDED

Though they appear vigorous, the bold gestures and painterly strokes that evoke the heady days of 1950s expressionism in Ari Pelkonen’s paintings, currently on view in Western Exhibitions’ “Helsingistä,” are actually the result of woodblock printing: a slow and methodical technique antithetical to the heroic gestures it emulates. Evoking pop-artist Roy Lichtenstein—who pilloried the dramatic look of the “tenth street touch” in overblown satires such as “Big Painting No. 6”—Pelkonen’s take is refreshingly free of cynicism. Works such as the wine-stained “Hold” offer instead earnest explorations of surface and touch coupled with an interest in figuration versus abstraction and interpretation versus recognition.

Read the rest of this entry »

News: Medium Cool Book Fair Returns This Weekend

Art Books, Design, News etc., Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Andrew Holmquist.  Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Andrew Holmquist.
Ten books in the conXion box set, offset printed books, 2014

Now in its second year, Chicago’s young art book fair has expanded for its latest iteration this weekend, spread across two days, at two sites, with two different focuses. Founded by designer Ria Roberts, Medium Cool is one of the most recent additions to Chicago’s literati culture of fairs, independent presses and book-minded artist projects. Read the rest of this entry »