Vicious tenebrous gods of Subjectivity! There’s no real reason, that I could find, for castigating Wyatt Grant’s “Dreamer Gets Another Dream,” a collection of collages and paintings and bantam sculptures; only that they fail both conceptually and aesthetically—”aesthetic” here not to be confused with “beautiful”—and therefore holistically. What is it saying, when the most attractive pieces are abstract works that embody the supposed theme of the show the least, wherein the colors and shapes and lines and spaces are arranged just so in a purified neo-plastic way? (This is how, by the way, a work of art succeeds aesthetically.) Meanwhile, the finest piece of quasi-representational work is one wherein the abstraction runs high and fast—a tartan face, a floating eye, a hulking hourglass form—and sits in a pile next to the gallery assistant, ready and willing to be taken home with you (not an indictment; personally, I love how my favorite piece can live with me, and me it). Read the rest of this entry »
“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 »
The Ed Paschke Art Center (EPAC), in collaboration with the Luminarts Cultural Foundation at the Union League Club of Chicago, recently announced the launch of an artist residency program, commencing with Erin M. Chlaghmo and John Metido, this year’s participants. Beginning in March and continuing through April 26, 2015, both artists will have access to studio space at the center, where they will produce and exhibit work in an open studio that invites visitors to observe their entire working processes, from conception to completion.
Community, a theme reflected in the residency program, is a critical attribute of both organizations. The Luminarts Cultural Foundation advocates art education and appreciation through competitions for young artists in the Chicago area; EPAC also emphasizes the community, reflecting Paschke’s legacy.
Ed Paschke (1939-2004), a Chicago born and educated artist, mentored artists throughout his lifetime. EPAC continues this tradition: it preserves and provides public access to Paschke’s work; functions as an educational source for people of all ages; and provides a means to exhibit art. Although EPAC aims to bring Paschke’s artwork to the public, the artist residency program underscores another aspect of EPAC: supporting local artists, like their first two residents.
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 »
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 »
Set in the smart spaces of the Poetry Foundation, this exhibition of the British artist-illustrator Trevor Winkfield (born 1944) highlights his paintings, cover designs and limited-edition books. It’s a small-scale show—five paintings and four vitrines—but the bright, punchy images are themselves like welcome book illustrations against the ashen modernist environment of the still-newish John Ronan building.
Winkfield’s mother read picture books to him as a tot. Afterwards texts always provoked accompanying images from him. Raised in Leeds, he came to America in 1969 and quickly became part of the collaboration-happy New York School. Not “merely a brush for hire,” he said, he had true partnerships with major poets like Ron Padgett and John Ashbery. Collaboration, he reflected, was “one of the quickest ways of allowing me to see myself as others saw me.” Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
With the work of nine painters from the New York School in the 1950s, Chicago dealer Thomas McCormick has collaborated with several out-of-state dealers to pull together the kind of ambitious show more often found in a major museum. The artists chosen are all women, but their work does not feel traditionally feminine, lacking the gorgeous, fluid colorism of Helen Frankenthaler. Neither does it feel conventionally masculine, lacking the heroic, desperate exhaustion of Joan Mitchell. My favorite piece is a funky conglomeration by Charlotte Park, but it might well be mistaken for the work of her husband, James Brooks, whose work often resembles hers. Read the rest of this entry »
When I walked up to the five-story loft building that houses John Phillips’ studio, he was standing outside in the cold waiting for me. “This place was a brick shell when we moved in,” he reminisced as I followed him up the stairs and through his doorway. Soaring ceilings and white walls rose to greet me, meticulously renovated by Phillips’ own hands and brimming with his artwork and that of his friends. Shelves loaded with neatly organized rows of books and records occupied his living room, as did a skinny and very outgoing brown cat.
He offered me tea, then paused and added beer as an option. I accepted the latter and we headed downstairs to his studio. Located directly below his living space and with a floor plan just as large, Phillips is granted 24/7 access to his own artistic playground. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »