Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Ji Soo Hong and Matthew Kayhoe Brett/Slow

Collage, Drawings, Installation, Pilsen, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of Ji Soo Hong's collages in "Thick slide, decadent ration," at Slow

Installation view of Ji Soo Hong’s collages in “Thick slide, decadent ration,” at Slow

RECOMMENDED

The current exhibition at Slow, “Thick slice, decadent ration,” features work by Ji Soo Hong and Matthew Kayhoe Brett. Their works carry a studied meditation on process and composition, as their solid use of texture and color lend vibrancy and subtlety to the banal.

Ji Soo Hong approaches each slab of encased meat in her illustrative collages with a careful curiosity. Hong’s hand is in each of her works as her layered illustrations create collages of a subject matter that beckons to Francis Bacon and a voluptuously meaty still life tradition. The large white sheets mimic the display cases of a butcher shop, framing each assortment as studies in color and detail. A mélange of conté crayon and ink, chopped up and collaged, are drawing techniques imitative of the additive recipes of the sausages and hard meats Hong illustrates in her enlivened still-life works. Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting Artist: Cauleen Smith

Activist Art, Drawings No Comments »
Cauleen Smith. "Play Your Part Series," 2012,  ink on graph paper

Cauleen Smith. “Play Your Part Series,” 2012,
ink on graph paper

This is our seventh installment of the Visiting Artist column in which we ask an artist to produce a text on a personal topic. Cauleen Smith here reflects on how racial injustice and white privilege and supremacy gets processed in America and in the art world.

This year ends with a whole lot of heartache, rage and the palpable desire for action.

But I suspect that there is a silent contingent of Chicago’s contemporary art community who do not feel emotionally wounded by the injustices we’ve been served; who feel as if offering “the other side” of the argument has no place in this scene. And so perhaps these folks are riding this thing out—waiting for the outrage and hand-wringing to blow over like Ken Johnson’s New York Times review of “Now Dig This” blew over, like Donelle Woolford blew over, like Exhibit B at the Barbican blew over, like Bjarne Melgaard’s remaking of Allen Jones’ bondage chairs blew over, so that they can get back to the business of pure art free from all this tired-ass identity politics stuff. I mean that is so nineties, right? Well guess what. This is not going anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jack Tworkov/Valerie Carberry

Drawings, Michigan Avenue No Comments »
Jack Tworkov. "Untitled (Reclining Figure)," circa 1955, charcoal on paper

Jack Tworkov. “Untitled (Reclining Figure),” circa 1955, charcoal on paper

RECOMMENDED

Jack Tworkov is best known for his gestural paintings of the 1950s. But his work runs the gamut of mid-century American genres: from Social Realism to Abstract Expressionism to Geo-form to Minimalism. You might say he jumped on every new bandwagon, but he stayed away from the irony and pop-culture tropes of postmodernism. This first-generation American seemed less interested in pushing the boundaries of art and taste than in exploiting every new opportunity for expressing and valorizing his restless, rootless self in an ever-changing world. Life drawing, quickly executed, gave him many such opportunities, as he moved back and forth between observational detail and compositional dynamic. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Stan Shellabarger/Western Exhibitions

Drawings, Installation, Prints, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Stan Shellabarger at Western Exhibitions

Installation view of Stan Shellabarger at Western Exhibitions

RECOMMENDED

Stan Shellabarger’s most recent solo show at Western Exhibitions exhibits his durational work through which he contemplates the residue of time and the physical impressions left behind on materials such as paper, wood and steel. Throughout the galleries, he fully embraces each passing moment while creating a collective imagery that is focused, somber and quiet.

At the center of the show, there is the artist’s homage to Carl Andre’s “Plain” called “Untitled (Drypoint).” This work investigates pacing and time as the artist walked on steel plates he arranged to resemble Andre’s work while wearing heavy-grit sandpaper on his shoes. The work hovers on a plinth just above the gallery floor and is marked with a red snaking shape that sets the stage for the remaining pieces in the galleries. This work is the heart of the show, guiding visitors to also pace themselves with his command of minimalist formal strategies. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Wangechi Mutu/Block Museum of Art

Collage, Drawings, Evanston, Installation, Video No Comments »
Wangechi Mutu. "The End of eating Everything," (still), 2013, animated video (color, sound), 8:00 minute loop

Wangechi Mutu. “The End of eating Everything,” (still), 2013, animated video (color, sound), eight-minute loop

RECOMMENDED

Images are ideological constructions that serve the social function of representing political and global interactions. For Wangechi Mutu’s collages in her survey “A Fantastic Journey” the artist sources imagery from National Geographic, pornographic and fashion magazines to undercut disparaging assumptions about the black female body. “Le Noble Savage” is a wry collage that demonstrates the historic weight of this misnomer. It was a term coined in the seventeenth century that designated non-Europeans as primitive and served as a reason to discredit their accomplishments. A female figure marked with dark sores wears a raffia-patterned skirt reminiscent of traditional Kuba textile from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mutu’s Afrofuturist aesthetic is evident in the figure’s skin. Her diseased flesh refers to the victims of crises in Africa, the interpolating global politics of war, the illegal trades of bodies, minerals, bullets and more recently the Ebola epidemic—one that the Western press ignored until two American missionaries were infected with the virus. The figure reaches up to the sky holding high a fern populated by many birds showing that there is more to Africa than just the pervasive reductive binary of casting it as a “dark” continent or the emblem of the “cradle of civilization.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Lilli Carré/Western Exhibitions

Art Books, Drawings, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Lilli Carré. "Solution Drawing (no. 2)," 2014, maze: pencil on paper, solution: colored pencil on paper

Lilli Carré. “Solution Drawing (no. 2),” 2014,
maze: pencil on paper,
solution: colored pencil on paper

RECOMMENDED

Humans make mazes for themselves so they can solve them. Crosswords, sudoku, Rubik’s Cubes: we’re frustrated with the concept of being lost, but we’re also fascinated with the process of unlocking, the discernment involved and the discovery that happens along the way.

Lilli Carré’s “The Pleasure of Getting Lost” explores this mentality through drawings, animations and a book. Carré’s multidisciplinary practice successfully makes visual the array of sensations associated with the concept of being lost. She invites viewers to lose themselves with her, to follow her process and even step into her roles as creator, explorer and solver of the puzzles. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Matthew Haussler

Drawings, Loop No Comments »
Matthew Haussler at work on his attempt to break the world record for longest hand drawn maze

Matthew Haussler at work on his attempt to break the world record for longest hand-drawn maze

“I brought my daughter to this room once and she spent five minutes looking at the ceiling, walking around,” says Matthew Haussler about the Cultural Center lobby. “Those are the things most adults don’t notice.” Haussler brought me here to admire the patterned coffers, not unlike the lines within his own work. Months ago he wouldn’t have believed mazes could provide a source of income, let alone that he would gun for the record of the longest hand-drawn maze. With two books of mazes just published by MindWare, and another collection of Chicago mazes funded on Kickstarter, the Cincinnati native has been busy developing his craft. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Daniel Giles and Eliza Myrie/Roots & Culture

Ceramics, Drawings, Installation, Performance, Video, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Eliza Myrie. "diamond, diamond, graphite," graphite and paper, dimensions variable

Eliza Myrie. “diamond, diamond, graphite,” graphite and paper, dimensions variable

RECOMMENDED

In “go/figure,” Eliza Myrie and Daniel Giles converse over problems with abstraction, distortion and obfuscation of black bodies’ representations. Their respective historical research and process-based practices make manifest obscured features in histories of African mining and the craft objects of black slaves in the American South. Read the rest of this entry »

Expo Dispatches: Figures that Stand Their Ground

Art Fairs, Drawings, Painting No Comments »
GAMA. " Zuflucht (Refuge)," 2014 (Booth #403)

GAMA. ” Zuflucht (Refuge),” 2014 (Booth #403)

Because Expo 2013 was brimming with overpriced abstract condo décor, second-rate Robert Motherwell collages and lukewarm photography, this year I set myself the task of seeking out the best examples of “representational” painting that I could find. Although still lives, portraits and landscapes (even those highly abstracted) don’t really fit the typical art fair mold, I’d think they’d be easier to sell than a painting that says “Fuck Off” or “I Want to Cum in Your Heart.” But what do I know? Read the rest of this entry »

News: Riva Lehrer Chosen for New 3Arts and UIC Artist Fellowship

Art Schools, Drawings, Performance No Comments »
"SUSPENSION: RR," charcoal, colored pencil and acupuncture needles on paper, 30" x 44", 2012

Riva Lehrer. “SUSPENSION: RR,” charcoal, colored pencil and acupuncture needles on paper, 30″ x 44″, 2012

On September 3, the nonprofit organization 3Arts announced that visual artist Riva Lehrer was one of the first two recipients of a newly created artist fellowship residency at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that will support “the creation of new work by local artists with disabilities who are actively engaged in raising awareness about disability culture on and off campus.” This pilot year of the new residency has been awarded to two past 3Arts Award recipients, Lehrer and theater and performing artist Robert Schleifer. Following their time as residents, the application process will be open to qualifying artists in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Through the duration of their time as residents (varying, but about three months), the two artists will have full access to the resources available on UIC’s campus, support for completing new artistic projects and a wide range of paid opportunities for programming intended for students and faculty (such as critiques and studio visits) and the general public (such as public forums and workshops). Lehrer will be given studio space and Schleifer will have access to theater space. 3Arts has contributed $10,000 for these two fellowships, with funding tailored to the specific artists and their projects. Read the rest of this entry »