Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Portrait of the Artist: John Stezaker

Artist Profiles, Collage, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Michigan Avenue, Photography No Comments »
Stezaker, Ghosts I, 2013 (0915031)

John Stezaker. “Ghosts I,” 2013. Collage, 13 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches. /Photo: Michael Tropea.

High on the thirty-eighth floor of the Hancock Building, John Stezaker and I stand amidst the clean white walls of Richard Gray Gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Freedom From Information

Activist Art, Collage, Design, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Loop, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Performance, Photography, Prints, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Dora Garcia. "Ulysses," since 1999. Trimmed book, unlimited edition.

Dora Garcia. “Ulysses,” since 1999. Trimmed book, unlimited edition.

By Elliot J. Reichert

It is difficult to think about art these days. Witnessing the world unravel in daily news reports makes questions of culture seem superfluous. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Christopher Michlig, Amy Yoes/Devening Projects + Editions

Collage, Design, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Prints No Comments »
Amy Yoes. "Structural 004," 2014. Mixed media collage, 14 × 16 inches.

Amy Yoes. “Structural 004,” 2014. Mixed media collage, 14 × 16 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Dan Devening, proprietor of the eponymous ‘projects + editions,’ painter, curator and faculty at SAIC, has a good eye for pairing artists. While his Garfield Park gallery typically runs concurrent solo shows in separate rooms within the same space, the aesthetic frisson generated by the works’ proximity is almost always palpable and the dialogue between them inescapable. Case in point: Christopher Michlig’s “To Everyone” and Amy Yoes’ “Structurals and Sightlines.”

In Yoes’ multi-paneled installation, an initial feeling of cool intellectualism (possibly provoked by the works’ lack of color) gives way to something more primitive, more vigorously physical. As hard-edged geometric shapes collide head-on with snippets of casual brush strokes and glued-down half-tone dots, the vertiginous spaces they create exact a tidal pull upon the body forcing the viewer to move in close and then take several large steps back in order to reckon with the arrangement. In contrast, her stop-motion animation “Sightlines” literally brings the paintings’ forms to life, but at the cost of our kinesis; we cease moving and instead merely watch.

Christopher Michlig. "To Everyone V," 2015. Collage, high-gloss enamel on poly-coated poster paper, 22 × 14 inches.

Christopher Michlig. “To Everyone V,” 2015. Collage, high-gloss enamel on poly-coated poster paper, 22 × 14 inches.

While Yoes’ “Structurals and Sightlines” rapidly shift from passive to aggressive, the collages in Michlig’s “To Everyone” move in the opposing direction. What begins as an assertive display of hyper-saturated, West Coast color yields a more deliberate exploration of duplication, theme and variation. Based on screen-printed reproductions from a 1961 André Bloc exhibition catalogue, Michlig’s pieces reverse engineer objects that have been reduced to code back into objects again. This process is most apparent in the nine paper constructions whose simple geometry—embellished with stylized drips—resembles a kind of 3D clip art. Immediately appealing, over time the works in “To Everyone” become more ambivalent.

Michlig’s luminous collages and constructions hit fast then slow down, while Yoes’ achromatic modular panels seem reserved but then get bossy. On the face of it, these works seem designed to accentuate their differences. But both shows underscore a shared sense of art’s history, an appreciation of the visual language of reproduced imagery and the fusion of different forms of “touch” through collage as a quintessentially contemporary medium. (Alan Pocaro)

Through December 12 at Devening Projects + Editions, 3039 West Carroll.

International Dispatch: Disproving Silence at the 2015 Istanbul Biennial

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Theaster Gates. "The Anthem of Mu," 2015. Performance on the Bosphorus for "Saltwater: A Theory of Forms." /Photo: Mehmet Girgin.

Theaster Gates. “The Anthem of Mu,” 2015.
Performance on the Bosphorus for “Saltwater: A Theory of Thought Forms”/Photo: Mehmet Girgin

By Mariam Al Askari

“Guglielmo Marconi said every sound we ever make is still out there. Once generated, it fades but never dies away completely.” This idea not only encapsulates the work by Susan Philipsz for which it was written—the work features sounds of dripping water and underwater beacons—but also the 2015 Istanbul Biennial as a whole, which features countless artists and other collaborators, several of which hail from Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nathaniel Mary Quinn/Rhona Hoffman Gallery

Collage, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, West Loop No Comments »

Nathaniel Mary Quinn. “Class of 92,” 2015. Black charcoal, gouache, soft pastel, oil pastel, paint stick on Coventry Vellum paper, 34 x 38 inches, paper; 40.25 x 44 inches, framed. Photo: RCH | EKH

RECOMMENDED

Collage is always born upon an undercurrent of violence; no matter the nature of the dismantling—be it surgical or savage—the end result is without fail an image sutured together from the destruction of others, a Frankenstein’s monster of thoughts, feelings, ideas and icons made melange, a mass grave of optics. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Florian Baudrexel/Corbett vs. Dempsey

Collage, East Village, Galleries & Museums, Media & Genres, Noble Square No Comments »
Florian Baudrexel. "Cogaxed," 2015. Collage with magazine paper, Styrofoam passe-partout, wooden frame. 16.5 x 12.5 x 0.75 inches.

Florian Baudrexel. “Cogaxed,” 2015. Collage with magazine paper, Styrofoam passe-partout, wooden frame. 16.5 x 12.5 x 0.75 inches.

RECOMMENDED

Like many historic artists, Florian Baudrexel seems less concerned with presenting new or personal visions than with outperforming his rivals, packing more wallop per square inch than other artists who cut and paste printed material. Expecting his work to be the same scale as similar graphic collages in this gallery’s recent Albert Oehlen show, I could not at first find his miniatures on the gallery wall. Recalling the highly detailed woodcuts of Albrecht Dürer, Baudrexel is certainly not the first German artist to fit a lot of energy into a very small space. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Tactical Formations/National Veterans Art Museum

Activist Art, Collage, Comics, Drawings, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Media & Genres, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Portage Park, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
National Veterans Art Museum.

John Plunkett. “Battle (Left),” 1981. Graphite on canvas, 40 x 54 inches / National Veterans Art Museum.

 RECOMMENDED

“Your mind may be a thousand miles away. But your eyes and ears are right here!” reads the caption of “Night Listening Post” a mixed media piece by Dale Samuelson of the Vietnam Veterans Arts Group. The graphite sketch above the quote shows two soldiers lying flat on their stomachs, staring off into nothing as they listen, blending into the night. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: LUMA at 10: Greatest Hits/Loyola University Museum of Art

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"LUMA At Ten: Greatest Hits, "Installation view, including “Silver Clouds” by Andy Warhol and "Paranirvana (Self Portrait)" by Lewis deSoto. / Photo: Loyola University Chicago.

“LUMA At Ten: Greatest Hits,” Installation view, including “Silver Clouds” by Andy Warhol and “Paranirvana (Self Portrait)” by Lewis deSoto./Photo: Loyola University Chicago

RECOMMENDED

Religion is often the apparent culprit in today’s war-torn world, so an exhibition with a spiritual undertone may seem unnerving. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Chicago is an Exquisite Corpse

Activist Art, Architecture, Art Fairs, Art Schools, Collage, Comics, Design, Digital Art, Drawings, Evanston, Fall Preview, Galleries & Museums, Garfield Park, Gold Coast/Old Town, Humboldt Park, Hyde Park, Installation, Little Village, Logan Square, Loop, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Museum Campus, Outsider Art, Painting, Performance, Photography, Pilsen, Prints, Public Art, River North, River West, Rogers Park, Sculpture, South Loop, Street Art, Streeterville, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Uptown, Video, West Loop, West Town, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
The thing that was sent to me in it's intended but unsettling orientation.

The thing that was sent to me in its intended but unsettling orientation.

By Elliot J. Reichert

The above image was sent to me anonymously in the middle of the night. Shocking as it appears, I was relieved to receive it. You see, weeks ago I had contacted a few artist friends to ask them to reflect on the upcoming fall art season in Chicago and to ask one to “take over” the task of appraising it. To my surprise, they were reluctant to describe it, even those who had exhibitions of their work opening in the coming weeks. Later, I realized that their silence was my doing, having asked a question that could produce no coherent answer.

Much like the drawing game made famous by the Surrealists, Chicago’s 2015 fall art season is an exquisite corpse—a thing of grotesque beauty that is the dream of no one, but the creation of many. At first glance, it appears sinister, like the Block Museum’s solo show of newly commissioned works by Chicago artist Geof Oppenheimer. Rumor has it that the sculptor has filled the museum’s ample galleries with austere and foreboding installations resembling the cinderblock constructions of grim institutions, like prison, or perhaps your corporate office. Even more menacing, Irena Haiduk, also Chicago-based and also exhibiting new work, will haunt the eaves of the Renaissance Society’s transformed gallery with the Sirens of Greek mythology, luring visitors unexpectedly into a debate on the revolutionary possibilities of art and social change amidst current political upheaval worldwide. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: The Freedom Principle/Museum of Contemporary Art

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Nick Cave. "Speak Louder," 2011. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

Nick Cave. “Speak Louder,” 2011.
Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. Photo: James Prinz Photography.

RECOMMENDED

The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), the Chicago-born kaleidoscope of experimental musicians, had a motto: “Ancient to Future.” That rallying call pervades the MCA’s “Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now.” The show animates the dawn of the black American avant-garde, born out of the Civil Rights era and African anti-colonial movements, and its legacy in contemporary society.

Read the rest of this entry »