Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Drunken Geometry/Devening Projects and Editions

Ceramics, Garfield Park, Installation, Painting, Sculpture No Comments »
Leslie Baum + Allison Wade. Drunken Geometry, installation view, February 2015.

Leslie Baum + Allison Wade. Drunken Geometry, installation view, February 2015.

RECOMMENDED

“Drunken Geometry,” the new collaborative exhibition by Leslie Baum and Allison Wade, is a risky proposition. By tackling the classic conventions and traditions associated with the still life, these two Chicago-based artists seek to extend our preexisting notions of the genre by, in effect, taking them apart. The approach is as pregnant with possibility as it is fraught with travails.

Sculptural formulations are particularly susceptible to problems inherent to deconstruction since a table displayed without substantive transformation remains merely a table, an artifact of our mundane world rather than an active agent in the world of art. Though reasonable people can (and should) disagree, objects placed within the environs of gallery are not art by default. The wall-mounted “Many Things Conspired #1” as well as the floor-bound “New Things (the persistence of ordered objects) #1,” which both seem a little too self-satisfied as minimally altered objects, are the most problematic in this regard. 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 »

Review: MetaModern/Krannert Art Museum

Galleries & Museums, Installation, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Suburban, Video No Comments »
Jordi Colomer. "Anarchitekton (Barcelona, Bucharest, Brasilia, Osaka)," 2002–04 4 single channel video projection, silent Barcelona: 5 min; Bucharest: 3 min; Brasilia: 3 min 49 sec; Osaka: 1 min 49 sec

Jordi Colomer. “Anarchitekton (Barcelona, Bucharest, Brasilia, Osaka),” 2002–04
4 single channel video projection, silent
Barcelona: 5 min; Bucharest: 3 min; Brasilia: 3 min 49 sec; Osaka: 1 min 49 sec

RECOMMENDED

Updating Barry Schwabsky’s 2012 label “retromodernism,” Colby Chamberlain coined the term “domestic modernism” to describe Margaret Lee’s recent installation of facsimiles depicting twentieth-century art and design icons. Noting that, “apparently Brancusi duplicates are trending,” Chamberlain compared Lee’s model of Brancusi’s “Endless Column” to another shown by Josephine Meckseper in 2013, highlighting their affinity in evoking department store displays. Now featured in the group show “MetaModern” at the Krannert Museum, William Cordova’s tribute to the Brancusi monument—a column of lampshades inverted in an alternating rhythm and lit from within—similarly evokes a retail aura. Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle also replicates a Brancusi phallus, but with a more aeronautical thrust; his nine-foot “Bird in Space” is fabricated from carbon fiber, Kevlar and steel, and seems ready to blow a Sputnik out of the sky. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jaime Davidovich/Threewalls

Drawings, Installation, Multimedia, Video, West Loop No Comments »
Jaime Davidovich. "The Live! Show," 1980

Jaime Davidovich. “The Live! Show,” 1980

RECOMMENDED

Argentinian artist Jaime Davidovich moved to a New York teeming with ideas, conversations and possibilities during the 1960s and seventies, when it was gritty, dangerous and artists could afford a building in SoHo. Whereas Gordon Matta-Clark, Donald Judd and the Judson Dance Theater give the period its experimental flavor, Davidovich’s pioneering efforts in artist-run public television never received recognition like abstract video artists Stan Brackhage or Paul Sharits. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: EXODUS/Arts Incubator

Digital Art, Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture No Comments »
Alexandria Eregbu. "Zion," 2015 drywall, track spikes

Alexandria Eregbu. “Zion,” 2015
drywall, track spikes

RECOMMENDED

This joint exhibition of new works by recent SAIC graduates Alexandria Eregbu and Alfredo Salazar-Caro is a deft combination of divergent practices fused at a fertile point of departure. As the exhibition title implies, movement begot by conflict and political turmoil is the underlying theme of the work on hand and sets the stage for interpretation. Although each artist draws from their own backgrounds—Salazar-Caro addresses immigration and the United States-Mexico border while Eregbu seizes on a constellation of issues touching on the legacy of slavery, the rise of Boko Haram and stereotypes of African athleticism—the works appear contiguously in the gallery with a rhythmic harmony that unites the sculpture and video (and video game) therein. Visual continuities set side-by-side link Salazar-Caro’s “From Space There Are No Borders,” a vinyl printout of a satellite image of the United States-Mexico border hung from floor to ceiling, with Eregbu’s “Zion,” an oblong slab of drywall set upright against the street-facing window bank covered in a pattern of track shoe spikes. Together the formal beauty of the shiny, textured pattern of spikes and the colorful composition of digitally stitched satellite pictures belie the sinister implications of violence and exclusion folded carefully into these works. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Authority, Affirmations and Other Nomenclature

Ceramics, Drawings, Installation, Multimedia, Oak Park, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown 1 Comment »
Nate Young. Installation view of "Untitled (Pulpit No. 1)," 2014, and "Untitled (Altar No. 1)," 2015

Nate Young. Installation view of “Untitled (Pulpit No. 1),” 2014, and “Untitled (Altar No. 1),” 2015

By Matt Morris

Is art that appears to be “about art” ever only limited to that scope of investigation? I’d say it’s doubtful, mostly because mechanisms of power reproduce themselves throughout social institutions, so to reflect upon the constitutive components of an artistic medium (as well as its historical and contemporary contexts) possesses at least the potential of a transferrable method by which one might fashion new freedoms—not through a rebellion from upheld traditional forms but through critical relationships to them. The monochrome continues to do this. Distilled to an uninterrupted plane, color, texture, scale and the tools for applying material (all usually in some way present in most artworks) are amplified, inviting investigation into the parts that comprise the art. In the best of cases, consideration of the conditions of display is inspired as well. The monochrome as a form also holds up under projections: historically used for such diverse conceptual conceits as Suprematism, color field painting, the “radical painting group,” and most recently one of several working modes bizarrely attributed by Ken Johnson to “soccer mom” aesthetics. A century after Kazimir Malevich painted his canvas “Black Square” in 1915, artists continue figuring out how to take apart the language of art-making so that the parsed vocabulary can speak to the power of the entire system. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Geiger/Welsh/Document

Installation, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Installation view of Marcus Geiger sculpture and column covering

Installation view of Marcus Geiger sculpture and column covering

RECOMMENDED

A collaboration between Marcus Geiger of Vienna and Margaret Welsh of Chicago, Geiger/Welsh is an elegant pair of works formed from interlocking materials meant for disposal, the first in a series of exhibitions at Document co-curated by Aron Gent and Michael Hall. Materials chosen by both artists for the exhibition are those used to ship, contain or carry artwork, using the packaging commonly associated with protecting objects to create them. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nick Bastis/Regards

Installation, Multimedia, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Nick Bastis. "When you don’t find what you’re looking for, sleep (Gemini Bauce)," 2015 vinyl padding, Helix aspersa snails

Nick Bastis. “When you don’t find what you’re looking for, sleep (Gemini Bauce),” 2015
vinyl padding, Helix aspersa snails

RECOMMENDED

Nick Bastis stokes and redirects the familiar to generate synaptic points of overlap that hint at subversion and untapped latent potential that extend between objects, architecture and the viewer’s body. The vastness of space between objects in this exhibition is symbolic of the immaterial intellectual labor that produced these variations. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Lands End/Logan Center Gallery

Hyde Park, Installation, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Video 1 Comment »
Carrie Schneider. "Burning House (March, sunset)," 2011, C-print

Carrie Schneider. “Burning House (March, sunset),” 2011,
C-print

RECOMMENDED

Our historically brief presence on this earth is owed to a fact of geologic consent. Time, heat and pressure, the primordial forces that shape our world, have, for the past 250,000 years, granted us a reprieve from the destructive dance that constantly forms and renews this planet. “Lands End” reveals how humankind has taken up where these tectonic forces have left off.

Curated by Zach Cahill and Katherine Harvath, works by thirteen artists variously envision the contemporary landscape as contested political terrain, a site of environmental degradation, the source of precious commodities we lust after, and a place of mystery, fear and wonder. In all of the works on display, time is the underlying element; either we have too much of it, or not nearly enough. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Rafael E. Vera/A+D Gallery

Installation, Loop, Sculpture No Comments »
Rafael E. Vera. "Hold," 2015 pine, hand truck, glass, ratchet strap, mirror Photo Credit: April Alonso

Rafael E. Vera. “Hold,” 2015
pine, hand truck, glass, ratchet strap, mirror
Photo Credit: April Alonso

RECOMMENDED

In “The Moments Between,” Rafael E. Vera presents new work constructed with industrial materials such as concrete, cinder blocks, rebar, hooks and straps—rough stuffs that are intended for extensive use at the mercy of calloused hands. Taking substances that typically connote durable exteriors, Vera has erected pieces that read as scenes found in a domestic landscape. In a piece entitled “Heavy Conversation,” Vera has fabricated two chairs out of poplar. Their blond wood and lack of stylistic references transcend the several feet between them with an emotionless, blank stare. Sprawled out and stretching over both seats, a large concrete bar snoozes atop two soft pillows—a heavy head finds rest in an unconventional cradle. Next to the chairs rises a wall that is painted a light shade of “office green,” providing a domestic backdrop for an otherwise industrial colored palette. Read the rest of this entry »