Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Frances Stark/Art Institute of Chicago

Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Michigan Avenue, Multimedia, Photography, Video 1 Comment »
Frances Stark. "From therealstarkiller #1298," 2015 Archival inkjet print, 7" x 7". Courtesy the artist.

Frances Stark. “From therealstarkiller #1298,” 2015
Archival inkjet print, 7″ x 7″. Courtesy the artist.

RECOMMENDED

Intimism, a term associated with paintings of domestic scenes filled with family and friends, expertly describes the video and digital offerings in this expansive, beautiful and playful show. Leave it to Stark, best known for “My Best Thing,” a video animation of a relationship formed on Chatroulette, to shed light on the contrast between private and public in our digitized lives.

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Eye Exam: Leaving Saturn’s Return

Digital Art, Drawings, Performance No Comments »
James Lee Byars. Pink letter, ca. 1982 Gold crayon on pink Japanese paper Collection of Michael Lowe and Kimberly Klosterman

James Lee Byars. Pink letter, ca. 1982
Gold crayon on pink Japanese paper
Collection of Michael Lowe and Kimberly Klosterman

By Matt Morris

“You’ve gotten so much more mystical this year,” said my twin during a recent phone call. We’d been talking horoscopes and tarot, and more generally about forms of reading that are predicated on alternatives to empirical reason. We’ve turned thirty this year, and now we’re completing a period astrologers call Saturn’s return. It’s the first time Saturn returns to its position at the time of your birth, and it’s said to accompany crisis and questioning—finding out what you’ve built so far, whether it’s strong enough to continue working, and what tumultuous deconstruction will radically reshape your life. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Manish Nai/Kavi Gupta Gallery

Architecture, Collage, Craft Work, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture, Textiles, West Loop No Comments »
Manish Nai. "Untitled," 2015 Dyed burlap, 90" x 4"

Manish Nai. “Untitled,” 2015
Dyed burlap, 90″ x 4″

RECOMMENDED

The work of Mumbai-based Manish Nai makes a viewer reconsider the limits of an artistic medium. He doesn’t use traditional media, such as heavy metals and wood, oil or acrylic. Instead, Nai uses everyday materials—cardboard, jute, newspaper and even his family’s used clothing—to sculpt, mark and render.

For his first solo exhibition in the United States, Nai has created wall hangings, photographic prints, sculptures and four site-specific works, including a gallery pillar wrapped in jute, a burlap-like material that is abundant in India, and a heat-transferred mural that will slowly disappear during the course of the exhibition. His use of traditional artistic processes, such as weaving or drawing and sculpting by hand, in conjunction with contemporary rendering techniques borrowed from digital and new media art, design and architecture give these objects a surprising new dynamism. By combining the old and the new, Nai’s work is thoroughly international even as it remains fully Indian.
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Review: Phillip Maisel/Document Gallery

Collage, Design, Digital Art, Galleries & Museums, Photography, West Loop No Comments »
Phillip Maisel. "Serengeti Green (1836)," 2015 Archival Pigment Print and Scrim. 17" x 24"

Phillip Maisel. “Serengeti Green (1836),” 2015
Archival Pigment Print and Scrim. 17″ x 24″

RECOMMENDED

Repetition with minuscule change might be the hallmark of our day. Apps update regularly, new iPhones roll out yearly, movies reinvent themselves over and over again, all in a pursuit of user satisfaction. A good indicator of this is someone like Katy Perry—plastic bag, party girl, roaring tiger—in short, whatever we want or need her to be. This endless buffet of options suits our twenty-first-century needs but also keeps us fickle and anxious. Phillip Maisel’s photographs in his exhibition “Serengeti Green” use the vernacular of constant, minimal change that dictates this contemporary anxiety, asking us to slow down and consider these minor variations.

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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

RECOMMENDED

“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 »

News: UIC to Create Chicago-centric Collection of Latin American Art

Digital Art, Multimedia, News etc. No Comments »
Ceramic artist Jesus Torres creates pottery at Hull-House in the early 1930s. Photo: Wallace Kirkland, UIC, Jane Addams Memorial Collection.

Ceramic artist Jesús Torres creates pottery at Hull-House in the early 1930s. Photo: Wallace Kirkland, UIC, Jane Addams Memorial Collection.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded a $20,000 grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to create a Chicago-focused online collection of Latin American and Latino art, which will be the Chicago Latino Art Now! Virtual Gallery. The UIC-based Inter-University Program for Latino Research, an association of universities nationwide committed to increasing Latino scholarship, will support this project.

“The Chicago Latino Art Now! Virtual Gallery is a permanent digital space for art that will showcase a survey of Chicago art and visual culture since the 1930s,” says Olga Herrera, the principal project investigator, in an email interview with Newcity. For instance, artists closely associated with the Hull-House Kilns such as Jesús Torres, Miguel Juárez and José Ruiz will be featured on the gallery. Additional examples include Mario Castillo, Ray Patlan and Marcos Raya, among others linked with the 1970s mural movement. 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: 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″

RECOMMENDED

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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Eye Exam: Hard to See

Digital Art, Drawings, Installation, Loop, Multimedia, Performance No Comments »
Salvation Army in South Africa anti-abuse campaign image

Salvation Army in South Africa anti-abuse campaign image

By Matt Morris

Seeing is not a solitary activity, and it’s not simple. Perception is first of all dependent on context, not only because the specificities of an experience are ascertained through contrast, but also due to the ways each of our unique acculturations informs how we see. Comprehending visual information then turns out to be a social activity, evidenced most clearly in the debates that arise when we don’t see things the same way. And of course, these turbulent discourses around what is perceived are at the expense of appreciating just how much goes unseen—through suppression, movement beyond our sensory faculties, or systemically strategic elisions in how the seen social is structured. This then is one of the often tacit but urgent responsibilities of visual culture and art: to pressure and interrogate the boundaries of perception, to render the invisible visible. Changing how we see is first perceptual but actually political work, and it’s being done across viral Internet memes, sharp-witted turns in how organizations understand multicultural diversity, and artistic research into invisibility. 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

RECOMMENDED

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 »