Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: A History of Coal/Corner

Art Books, Avondale, Installation, Multimedia, Video No Comments »
Philip Hartigan. "Diorama,"  paper, cardboard, clay, acrylic, paper-litho transfers, electric motors. Photo by Adam Liam Rose

Philip Hartigan. “Diorama,”
paper, cardboard, clay, acrylic, paper-litho transfers, electric motors.
Photo by Adam Liam Rose

RECOMMENDED

That coal is extracted from veins speaks to its intractable relationship with modern civilization, of which it provided for no small part of the modernization; it is the precious dead resource, requisite for (what we now deem to be) life, and one imagines the jugular running within the rugose hillside, a lacing through tellurian viscera, the ancient refuse of violent nascence and convection-driven tumult, a black line drawn hard through bone and hewed through blood and running right up the sides into the head of Philip Hartigan’s grandfather. Corrugated as his environs, the head crowns a dioramic vignette, in one of Corner’s welcoming windows, which comprises the sculptural component of Hartigan’s installation concerning the coal running through his own veins. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Todd Kelly and Morgan Mandalay/LVL3

Installation, Painting, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Morgan Mandalay. "Still Life of Flowers and Red Curtains," 2015 oil paint and spray paint on b.o.g.o. canvas 12" x 16" each

Morgan Mandalay. “Still Life of Flowers and Red Curtains,” 2015
oil paint and spray paint on b.o.g.o. canvas
12″ x 16″ each

RECOMMENDED

The works by Todd Kelly and Morgan Mandalay in “Happy Little” help bring the concept of the still life into the twenty-first century. Kelly’s pieces are the more straightforward of the two, with influences ranging from Dutch and French masters from seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to a visual representation of the gravitational pull of the planets. The Brooklyn-based artist uses oil and spray paint and collage to layer materials over one another, often creating expertly composed work that almost appears three-dimensional, as in “Theory of Gravity Still Life 13.” These complex pieces contain collaged shapes of abstract and representational elements, such as a Christmas tree or the artist’s initials. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Imaginary Landscapes/Mana Contemporary

Installation, Painting, Photography, Pilsen, Sculpture, Textiles No Comments »
Assaf Evron. “Untitled (Athens and Oraibi)”

Assaf Evron. “Untitled (Athens and Oraibi)”

RECOMMENDED

In this compact exhibition curated by Allison Glenn, landscape serves as a metaphorical ground for four artists’ expansive manipulations of imaginary sites. Each of the works evince traces of fragmentation, collapse and compression, processes that appear here as gestures enacted on sites that are more the spaces of memory and history than they are physical terrains. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Chicago-based Artist Sabina Ott Receives 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship

Installation, Multimedia, News etc., Painting, Public Art, Sculpture No Comments »
Installation view of Sabina Ott's “here and there pink melon joy” at the Chicago Cultural Center

Installation view of Sabina Ott’s “here and there pink melon joy” at the Chicago Cultural Center

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (GMF) announced earlier this month that they have awarded 173 fellowships (two of which are joint fellowships) to diverse artists, scholars and scientists. In the foundation’s ninety-first competition for the United States and Canada, this year’s recipients were chosen from a pool of over 3,100 applicants. Among that talented group spanning over fifty-one disciplines with recipients ranging in age from twenty-nine to eighty-three is Sabina Ott, a Chicago-based painter and sculptor who is a professor of art at Columbia College Chicago. With the Guggenheim award, Ott intends to expound the scope upon her most recent work “here and there pink melon joy,” a site-oriented installation of paintings and sculptures completed in August of 2014 that was on display at the Chicago Cultural Center until January 2015. Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting Artist: Alberto Aguilar

Hyde Park, Installation, Multimedia, Public Art No Comments »
Alberto Aguilar. "Forms of Communication," 2015 desks and display sign lettering, photo by Juliet S. Eldred (UofC class of 2017)

Alberto Aguilar. “Forms of Communication,” 2015
desks and display sign lettering, photo by Juliet S. Eldred (UofC class of 2017)

We’re excited to have Alberto Aguilar’s “Crossing Boundaries” text as the eighth in our Visiting Artist column, a recurring feature in which Newcity invites an artist to produce a text in relation to their current art practice. Here Aguilar adds writing into an exploration that brings all aspects of his life into his residency at University of Chicago’s Arts Incubator.

One-thousand words are what I am allotted to write this so I will not waste one and use all. Words have the ability to get one from the top of the page to the bottom and if arranged just right communicate something clearly to the reader.

I am a Crossing Boundaries Resident Artist through the Arts Incubator and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. This began in January and will last for five months. When given this title I could not fully understand what it meant or what boundaries I should cross. Rather than be overtly political I decided I would simply fold all aspects of my life into this residency. During the five months all shows that I am in, my teaching, the visiting artist program that I coordinate, my travels, my family, my new dog, my interaction with others, my curatorial projects, my other residencies are my Crossing Boundaries residency. I figured that by making everything part of the residency some boundaries would inevitably be crossed. Even upon being given the opportunity to write this a few days ago I decided it too would be part of my residency. That every word I write here would be a product of it, proof that boundaries were crossed. In this case the boundary between you and I is being transgressed through the vehicle of this publication and my 1,000 words. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr/Heaven Gallery

Installation, Painting, Prints, Sculpture, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »
Dan Rizzo-orr. “Horse Statuette North” and “Horse Statuette Northeast," installation view

Dan Rizzo-orr’s “Horse Statuette North” and “Horse Statuette Northeast,”
with Mika Horibuchi’s “Screen/Screen,” installation view

RECOMMENDED

Mika Horibuchi and Dan Rizzo-Orr worked closely to present “View with a Room” as a project specific to the gallery space. The mostly painted work of the two artists interlocks with ease across two rooms despite wildly various subject matter and technical methods. Visual approaches reflect neatly onto three-dimensional objects, the sculptures orienting the space in turn. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Luis Sahagun/Kruger Gallery Chicago

Installation, Lakeview, Sculpture, Video No Comments »
Luis Sahagun. "Imprints of a Broken Lover" 2015 chain and fabric on concrete

Luis Sahagun. “Imprints of a Broken Lover” 2015
chain and fabric on concrete

RECOMMENDED

Appropriately titled “Escombros” or “rubble,” what Luis Sahagun’s new show at Kruger Gallery lacks in formal elegance, it effectively delivers in expressive force. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, this Chicago-based artist conjures a remarkable variety of sculptural form from the damaged and discarded. Wood, metal, plaster, concrete and copious amounts of cardboard are fused into ungainly objects that suggest their origin as urban detritus while obliquely pointing to Sahagun’s experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Evanston Biennial Solo Shows/Evanston Art Center

Collage, Evanston, Installation, Painting, Sculpture 1 Comment »
Noelle Allen. "Henry's Rainbow", 2014 resin, 23" x 32" x 2"

Noelle Allen. “Henry’s Rainbow”, 2014
resin, 23″ x 32″ x 2″

RECOMMENDED

This May, the Evanston Art Center will end its forty-eight year residence at the former Harley Clarke mansion and move into a newly renovated space one mile away. For the final exhibition within its historic location that blossoms with organic design and motifs, the center has selected three artists whose practices are deeply rooted in the natural world: Noelle Allen, Jennifer Yorke and Robert Porazinski. Read the rest of this entry »

Eye Exam: Stand in the Sun

Garfield Park, Installation, Painting, Photography, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
Erin Jane Nelson. "Monk Behind Bars," 2015 Inkjet on cotton, cotton, embroidered patches, wool batting, silk ribbon, garden lining fabric, grommets

Erin Jane Nelson. “Monk Behind Bars,” 2015
Inkjet on cotton, cotton, embroidered patches, wool batting, silk ribbon, garden lining fabric, grommets

By Matt Morris

I’ve really only been making photographs for the past couple of years, and thinking seriously about their medium for an even briefer span. What began as a lighthearted impulse to get men to undress for me was challenged into a more cogent form through recognizing the violence of the cropping frame on eroticized bodies (see Kobena Mercer), the draining echo chamber of the photograph’s reproduction (see Sherrie Levine), and the image and its circulation’s complicity in capital (see Hito Steyerl). Last month, when I tried to get a roll of film developed at this or that drugstore, none still had that equipment (“We just took our developing machine out yesterday,” one clerk told me); this older accessibility to the medium of photography is nearly extinct, succeeded by even more broadly used means of iPhone cameras, selfies, dick pics, Instagram and Google image search. We find ourselves in a torrent (all meanings of the word) of image production, and yet their reliability to represent has been utterly compromised (see David Joselit in the February Artforum linking the Staten Island grand jury’s failure to indict the policeman who murdered Eric Garner to the visual evidence—video footage of a brutal cop pile-on—failing to be allowed to represent these bodies and their violences). Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Mariana Sissia/The Mission

Drawings, Installation, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »
Mariana Sissia. "Mental Landscape #1," 2015 graphite on rice paper 98.5" x 27" each

Mariana Sissia. “Mental Landscape #1,” 2015
graphite on rice paper
98.5″ x 27″ each

RECOMMENDED

Delicate, gauzy rice paper sheets and scrolls hang throughout the compact storefront gallery. From a slight distance, the sheets appear to be topographical maps or, more likely, aerial black-and-white photographs of ambiguous terrain. Patterns of lightness and darkness roil over the soft surfaces of the rice paper, resolving into firm peaks of dense graphite just as easily as they dissolve into faint valleys of dull metallic traces. Do they represent mountains or deserts, hazy cloud cover or the surface of an ocean? The scale and materials recall Chinese scroll painting, but other associations just as easily come to mind. Last summer, the Art Institute exhibited World War I reconnaissance photographs of the Allied front in France taken by an American military brigade commanded by Edward Steichen. In their intransigent abstraction and grayscale gradients, Mariana Sissia’s drawings appear much the same. How to discern anything of use from such immaterial forms? Steichen’s problem became our pleasure, and Sissia yields all the more fully to the tactile and sensate in the matter of abstract geographies. Read the rest of this entry »