Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: René Magritte/Art Institute of Chicago

Loop, Painting No Comments »
René Magritte. "Clairvoyance (La Clairvoyance)," oil on canvas, 1936

René Magritte. “Clairvoyance (La Clairvoyance),” oil on canvas, 1936

RECOMMENDED

A girl devours a bird; feet morph into shoes; a nude female torso reads as a face. “René Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938,” the Art Institute of Chicago’s summer blockbuster, showcases the most important period of the Surrealist who precisely painted a new and disturbing reality. The exhibition is a collaboration between Houston’s Menil Collection, MoMA and the AIC.

It has a narrow focus—just a dozen years—when Magritte painted his “breakthrough” images. (The floating bowler-hatted men with umbrellas were later.) But many of his most famous pictures are here: ones that defined Surrealism and modern art, such as “The Treachery of Images” (“Ceci n’est-pas une pipe”) and “The Lovers” (a kissing couple with shrouded heads). Even though Magritte’s paintings operate as illustrations—he was a professional illustrator, after all—this show restores their status as paintings rather than as posters or jpegs. The works’ scale may surprise, as will the immaculate strokes and the saturated colors.

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Review: Gordon Hall/Night Club

Installation No Comments »
Gordon Hall. "MIDDLE DOUBLE," installation view

Gordon Hall. “MIDDLE DOUBLE,” installation view

RECOMMENDED

“MIDDLE DOUBLE,” a site-specific exhibition by up-and-coming New York-based artist Gordon Hall, is on display at Night Club, a relatively new apartment gallery in Bucktown. Hall, whose work covers a lot of ground including sculpture, writing and performance, is deeply concerned with platforms and the range of corporeal possibilities that objects and spaces have to offer. Having spent two weeks working on the show in the “gallery space”—a small yet well-lit repurposed bedroom—they present a set of understated sculptures and architectural interventions that function to subtly change our perception of its interiors.

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Review: Susan Aurinko and Tammy Kohl/Takohl Gallery

Photography, West Loop No Comments »
Susan Aurinko. “Je suis cy envoiee de par Dieu, le roi du ciel”

Susan Aurinko. “Je suis cy envoiee de par Dieu, le roi du ciel”

RECOMMENDED

Joan of Arc. Who was Joan of Arc, the teenage Christian visionary who led armies against the English invaders of France in the fifteenth century, and was killed by them at the age of nineteen in 1431? There are no images of her from the time she lived, but there are statues and figurines representing her made over the succeeding centuries. In a photographic quest driven by a sense of connection to the remarkable heroine, Susan Aurinko has sought out those objects and shot them as portraits, each one expressing a different mood, but all of them unified by what Tammy Kohl, who has enriched the exhibit by her jewelry referencing Joan’s time, calls “strength.” Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Luftwerk/The Franklin

Garfield Park, Installation No Comments »
"Into and Out of," site-responsive Mylar panel installation

“Into and Out of,” site-responsive Mylar panel installation

RECOMMENDED

Luftwerk, the collaborative endeavor of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, typically uses sound, light and projection to trick the eye and imbue the senses with soft and welcomed confusion. For “Into and Out of,” their exhibition at The Franklin, the two artists installed work that retreated from their usual repertoire of projection-based trickery, instead augmenting the outdoor gallery’s architecture. Intended to complicate the perception of perspectival space, a dozen Mylar-coated panels are installed both inside and outside the Franklin’s lattice-like structure. Those inside are connected to the ceiling with the ability to subtly sway, while the companion works along the exterior are secured firmly to the ground, transfixed.

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News: 96ACRES Seeks Art Proposals for Cook County Jail

Activist Art, Multimedia, News etc., Public Art No Comments »

TransformingSpace

The Cook County Department of Corrections, sitting on ninety-six acres on the West Side, is one of the nation’s largest single site pre-detention facilities. The independent, grassroots, social justice organization 96ACRES is seeking artistic projects to generate what they call “alternative narratives reflecting on power and responsibility by presenting insightful and informed collective responses for the transformation of a space that occupied 96 acres, but has a much larger social footprint.” Projects may include visual art, audio pieces, performance, new media works, writing, photography, design, prints and installation with particular interest to works at the site of the jail in an allocated space along its north exterior wall. Proposals are due July 28, and approved projects would be realized this fall. Base grants of $2,500 or up to $5,000 are available, funded by the Chicago Community Trust, Special Service Area #25, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Field Foundation of Illinois.

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News: Video Game Art Gallery Opens in Chicago

Logan Square, Multimedia, News etc., Prints No Comments »
"Battleship Bay" from Irrational Games, digital art print, 39" x 70"

“Battleship Bay” from Irrational Games, digital art print, 39″ x 70″

When Chaz Evans and Jonathan Kinkley met while studying art history at UIC a few years ago, they embarked on a dream to start a gallery project that celebrated the work of artists who create the spectacular visual experiences in video games. On August 8, they will launch the new Video Game Art Gallery, with their first exhibition hosted by Galerie F in Logan Square. This initial foray into a physical show of fine art prints is part of VGA’s work across their online platform as well as through exhibition programming. In an email, Evans explains, “We are working with this hybrid model as it fits well with the media we are showing: it exists both as live software but also as framed images.” The gallery’s website is set up so that collectors can purchase prints that range in price from $75 to $400. Some of the games from which the inkjet prints have been drawn are widely popular, such as “BioShock: Infinite.” But Evans and Kinkley also hope to introduce audiences to visually stunning hidden gems like “MirrorMoon EP,” a first-person puzzler by Santa Ragione with concept art by Gabriele Brombin. Playable demos of these and other games will complement the prints on view at Galerie F in August. Other future pop-up exhibitions are currently in the works.

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News: Applications Open for Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Artist Housing

News etc. No Comments »
Rendering of the Dorchester Artist Housing + Collaborative by Landon Bone Baker

Rendering of the Dorchester Artist Housing + Collaborative by Landon Bone Baker

Theaster Gates’ Dorchester Artist Housing has been completed in Greater Grand Crossing, a South Side neighborhood, and is open to applications. Thirty-two homes have been designed to function as a mixed-income artist community near Gates’ Dorchester Projects and other properties refurbished into a cultural hub by Gates over the past several years. The Artist Housing offers two-bedroom apartment homes for $722 to $910 per month and three-bedroom apartment homes for $869 to $1150. Residents will be responsible for gas, electric and air conditioning. Those interested are encouraged to contact the leasing office at (773)324-2270 for information about pre-applications and more specific information about Section 8 and minimum and maximum income restrictions.

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Review: Simon Starling/Museum of Contemporary Art

Installation, Multimedia, Sculpture No Comments »
Simon Starling. "Bird in Space," imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

Simon Starling. “Bird in Space,” imported Romanian steel plate, inflatable jacks, and helium, 2004

RECOMMENDED

In “Metamorphology,” British artist Simon Starling’s survey of photographs, installations and film, you do not mind having to read the accompanying wall texts—you actually look forward to it. This is a testament to the intrinsic inveiglement of Starling’s explorations of the titular phenomena; rarely does work so heavily dependent upon exposition avoid coming off as pedagogic so finely as Starling does here. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Makeovers for Sixty Inches From Center’s Magazine, Website and Headquarters

Bridgeport, News etc. No Comments »
:ast fall Sixty Inches from Center participated in Faheem Majeed's installation and event series "Shacks and Shanties."

Last fall, Sixty Inches from Center participated in Faheem Majeed’s installation and event series “Shacks and Shanties.”

In a letter from Sixty Inches From Center’s executive director Tempestt Hazel, she admits that the nonprofit online arts magazine “has been pretty quiet since 2014 began.” But now they’ve launched a new website, announced their new home at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport and embarked on the next chapter in their online magazine that shifts from the weekly publication of the last three years to a triannual format that builds content around selected themes with organized workshops, panel discussions and other events that aim to get at the tangible realities of art and its producers in Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: We do what we like and we like what we do/Western Exhibitions

Drawings, Installation, Painting, Sculpture, West Loop No Comments »
nicholas frank1

Nicholas Frank. “Nicholas Frank Biography, page 302 (First Edition),” printed book page, 6 ¼ x 4 ½ inches, custom-milled walnut frame, 10 x 8 inches, 2014

RECOMMENDED

This rambling celebration on the occasion of the gallery’s ten-year anniversary as a bricks-and-mortar space is cheekily titled after the eponymous Andrew W.K. anthem, “Party Hard.” The moniker adds both an air of revelry and defiance to the works exhibited, implying that director Scott Speh and the artists on his roster are fueled by passion and vision rather than a pursuit of conventional success.

The show is an exercise in polarity, oscillating between extremes in scale and tone. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer is confronted by the first of two sigil paintings by Elijah Burgher. Fresh from the Whitney Biennial, these painted drop cloths are installed back to back, dominating the initial visual field. Situated in the corner of the same room are two bongs, “Uncle Sam/Old Yeller” by Ben Stone. They seem slightly out of place in an area otherwise devoted to minimalist and conceptual works but add levity while reiterating the rebellious tone set by the title. Read the rest of this entry »