Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Art World’s Big Weekend 2014: Comprehensive Listing of Gallery Openings for September 4-7

Andersonville, Bronzeville, Collage, Drawings, Edgewater, Evanston, Fall Preview, Garfield Park, Installation, Lincoln Square, Logan Square, Multimedia, Painting, Photography, Prints, River North, Sculpture, Suburban, Ukrainian Village/East Village, Video, West Loop, Wicker Park/Bucktown No Comments »

Thursday, September 4


LOOP

Dan Ramirez, painting
Union League Club of Chicago, 65 West Jackson
Opening reception: 5:30pm-7pm, through September 30
(Members only opening, viewing by appointment only)

SUBURBS

Anthony Iacuzzi and Christopher Schneberger, photography
Perspective Gallery, 1310-1/2B Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Opening reception: 5pm-8pm, through September 28

Amy Vogel, mixed-media survey exhibition
Cleve Carney Art Gallery at College of DuPage, Fawell and Park Boulevards, Glen Ellyn
Opening reception: 12pm-2pm, through October 25

Taehoon Kim and Barbara Diener, large scale sculpture and photographic installation
Moraine Valley Community College, 9000 West College, Palos Hills
Opening reception: 3pm–5pm, through September 18 and October 23 respectively Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Norman Zammitt/Andrew Rafacz Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Norman Zammitt. "Red to Green I," acrylic on canvas board, 1979

Norman Zammitt. “Red to Green I,” acrylic on canvas board, 1979

RECOMMENDED

Why does the evocation of light from painting pervade the medium’s extensive history? It seems like a nonstarter to grind up and smear colored mud across a substrate in the attempt to produce luminosity. While peers in the loosely delineated movement of Light and Space in California from the 1960s onward abandoned painting in favor of more immaterial installation strategies, Norman Zammitt made a career of reasoned, deliberate canvases informed by floaty sensorial aspirations. His small paintings at Andrew Rafacz are rewarding to viewers precisely because of the tension between their physicality and the optical trickery that their composed horizontal bands of nuanced color excite in the eyes of viewers. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Art Institute Begins Publishing Online Digital Catalogues

Galleries & Museums, News etc., Painting No Comments »
views of hidden labels, reverse sides and photomicrograph cross sections are included in the Monet and Renoir catalogues

Views of hidden labels, reverse sides and photomicrograph cross sections are included in the Monet and Renoir catalogues

Last week, the Art Institute of Chicago published the first two of their online scholarly catalogues. Monet: Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago and Renoir: Paintings and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago are densely informative, interactive, close studies of the works of the two Impressionists held in the Institute’s permanent collection. Over the past couple of days, I’ve explored the catalogues; certainly the powerfully detailed zoom options allow viewers to observe details at a closeness that would not be available standing before the paintings in the museum, as well as details of how canvases are stretched, views of their reverse sides and photomicrographs that cross section the paintings’ grounds to see exactly how gesso and paint sit on the surface of the weave of the canvas. Entries on each of the two painters’ work in the collection are accompanied by in-depth curatorial essays, as well as technical reports (very compelling stuff not only for conservationists but artists and others interested in exacting accounts of how an artwork was made) as well as exhaustive accounts of provenance and exhibition history. That such detailed information about even one work is now freely available to the public is astonishing, but collected in the two books are forty-seven works by Monet and twenty-five by Renoir—a massive amount of information about some of the most precious holdings in the Institute’s collection.

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Review: 10th National Self-Portrait Exhibition/Zhou B Art Center

Painting No Comments »
John Walker. "Happy Face"

John Walker. “Happy Face”

“I’m bored with illustration, deluged with images, self-promotions, egocentric edifice, proclamations of spirituality, decorations, displays, novelties, identity politics, one-liners, banal humor and obfuscating art speak.” That proclamation, recently published by Chicago painter Bruce Thorn, pretty much describes my reaction to most of the cartoonish collection on view in the tenth annual National Self-Portrait Exhibition at Zhou B Art Center. None of these self-portraits make you feel like you’re actually meeting and engaging a real person. All of them express the artist’s self with some clever conceit rather than relying on painterly qualities to present the interior contradictions of a more complex personal reality. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Greg Gong and Jon Pestoni/Shane Campbell Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Jon Pestoni. "Tracksuit," oil and mixed media on panel, inset into wood frame, 2014

Jon Pestoni. “Tracksuit,”
oil and mixed media on panel, inset into wood frame, 2014

RECOMMENDED

California-based painters Greg Gong and Jon Pestoni have, through unifying abstract forms over a variety of ground materials and techniques, developed complementary methods that result in layered, petrified paint. They do well to show together as the stakes over which they struggle are not only a work’s surface but what physically lies beneath. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Fires Will Burn/DePaul Art Museum

Activist Art, Painting, Prints, Sculpture No Comments »
Negar Ahkami. "As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn," coffee stains, acrylic, modeling paste, gesso, and glitter, 2003

Negar Ahkami. “As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn,” coffee stains, acrylic, modeling paste, gesso and glitter, 2003

RECOMMENDED

The archive is a reminder, a catalogue of documents that help us imagine and encounter the past. DePaul Art Museum’s “Fires Will Burn: Politically Engaged Art from the Permanent Collection,” features works that explore social justice issues from the 1930s to the present—an era shaped by Roosevelt-backed New Deal programs and other social activism that has targeted relief, recovery and reform.

For “Fires Will Burn,” the works are grouped loosely by geography, highlighting the overarching complexities—historical, political and emotional—that constitute their conception. Most of the works shown are print media: etching, lithograph and screenprints by many politically motivated artists. Roger Shimomura’s artistic practice was prompted by his experience in the Minidoka internment camp during WWII. His “Yellow No Same” series borrows traditional Japanese costumed actors from wood-block prints who are shown separated by barbed wire from Japanese Americans. Negar Ahkami’s painting “As I Sit Here Musing, Fires Will Burn” is an examination of the Iranian-American artist’s overlapping cultures. In the ornamental painting on paper, the role of women is prominent: a burqa-clad figure wearing high heels is contrasted with a nude woman with a football head, surrounded by imagery from both of her cultures. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Hebru Brantley/Chicago Cultural Center

Comics, Loop, Painting No Comments »
Hebru Brantley. "O.M.G."

Hebru Brantley. “O.M.G.”

RECOMMENDED

The large-scale canvases in Hebru Brantley’s “Parade Day Rain” document the travails and revelries of his iconic character The Fly-Boy and his accompanying crew of poly-cultural homies: all vibrant, active, bruised and soaring. Here is an incredibly fresh assemblage of a makeshift community of young people who traverse emotional territory and urban landscape with hope and heartbreak.

Based off The Tuskegee Airmen, Brantley’s Fly-Boy is a black comic-book superhero in a landscape where heroes are usually white, and criminals too often depicted as black. Often Brantley renders his characters in profile against dense pastiche backdrops filled with Nike symbols, bootleg Bart Simpsons, and Jack Johnson dropping lead fists on the head of white supremacy. Read the rest of this entry »

Portrait of the Artist: Vincent Tiley

Painting, Performance, Pilsen, Video No Comments »
"Pearl," acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins, and velvet

“Pearl,” acrylic and nail polish on digitally printed spandex, sequins and velvet

“I was very little when I went as Glinda for Halloween one year, with very patient parents,” recounts artist Vincent Tiley as we met for coffee in Bushwick, the neighborhood in Brooklyn where he resides. Costumed as the good witch of Oz was one of Tiley’s earliest forays into the effervescent world of drag. “I take a lot from my experience coming out in college in Baltimore surrounded by a queer punk scene, making looks and going to a club and feeling all the feels that you get being weird at a place where people want you to be sexy.” For Tiley, bodies contain these tensions between the desire to be desired and a nearly contradictory one to challenge and affront. His first solo exhibition, “New Skin” at elee.mosynary gallery in Pilsen, is populated with heavily adorned bulbous paintings on digitally printed spandex that are “Blob Portraits” of club kids and drag queens that Tiley has befriended.

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Review: Zachary Cahill/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Painting No Comments »
Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation "USSA 2012 Wellness Center"

Zachary Cahill. painting from the installation “USSA 2012 Wellness Center”

RECOMMENDED

Zachary Cahill’s current exhibition, “USSA 2012: Wellness Center,” reflects on the contemporary dilemma of wellness in general and the healing potential of art in particular. Staging a physical retreat for therapeutic refuge in the third-floor enclave of the Museum of Contemporary Art that recalls European sanatoriums of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this highly referential exhibition of painting, sculpture and writing finds itself most cogent on the wall. Paintings often dressed in synthetic palettes and textual epigrams act in Cahill’s institution as optically prescriptive pseudo-pharmaceutical compositions with a desired effect on the viewer, a crooked analogue of the canonical canvases of romanticism they uncannily suggest.

The works center on health, wellness and care, topics as political and provocative as they come, instinctively relevant on a global scale, yet problematic as if by design. Health transcends the everyday, at once at the forefront of our collective consciousness and buried deep within it, a perennial victim of its own ubiquity. The industries of wellness wrestle with sizable points of contention, from intellectual property to the ethics of access. And the spaces of caregiving continue to provide rich ground to consider a question as genuinely human, ageless and pertinent today as any other, one found here, scribed in acrylic: what does it mean to be healthy? Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Matthew Girson/Chicago Cultural Center

Loop, Painting No Comments »
Matthew Girson. "The Painter's Other Library," installation view

Matthew Girson. “The Painter’s Other Library,” installation view

RECOMMENDED

A vexatious cloud hangs low over Matthew Girson’s new exhibition “The Painter’s Other Library.” Depicting endless shelves of meticulously placed books, the artist’s many compositions are executed in a brooding, almost impenetrable palette. At first blush, they read simply as black. As the eyes adjust to the paintings’ hushed tones, book after book, arranged to echo the precision and symmetry of modernist geometric abstraction, slowly emerge from the oleaginous mire. The beguiling tension within these works is heightened by the stark white walls and cathedral-like atmosphere of the Chicago Cultural Center. Read the rest of this entry »