Reviews, profiles and news about art in Chicago

Review: Shio Kusaka/Shane Campbell Gallery

Ceramics, West Loop No Comments »
Shio Kusaka. Installation of ceramic pots currently on view at Shane Campbell Gallery.

Shio Kusaka. Installation of ceramic pots currently on view at Shane Campbell Gallery.


Japanese-born, American-trained ceramicist Shio Kusaka appears to be standing in both worlds. Formally, she’s one-hundred percent Japanese, making the cups and bowls of conventional Japanese pottery with a simple, gentle, flowing, balanced, slightly off-kilter, understated sense of design and craftsmanship. Every detail is rewarding—from the firm footing, through the delicate thin walls, up to the inviting, sharply drawn orifice. But conceptually, she’s a contemporary American artist, hunting for that mysterious, ever-alluring boundary between tiresome banality and unique revelation. Read the rest of this entry »

News: Major expansions for Kavi Gupta and Shane Campbell galleries

News etc., South Loop, West Loop No Comments »
Kavi Gupta Gallery's new production studio in Little Village

Kavi Gupta Gallery’s new production studio in Little Village

Two of Chicago’s most prominent galleries—Kavi Gupta and Shane Campbell—are expanding into larger spaces. Kavi Gupta has added an additional building to their Chicago properties, situated in the Little Village neighborhood. Shane Campbell Gallery will be relocating to the South Loop next spring. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: New Image Painting/Shane Campbell Gallery

Painting, West Loop No Comments »
Nick Schutzenhofer. "Untitled," 2014, egg tempura on paper mounted to canvas, 29 1/8h x 23 1/8w in.

Nick Schutzenhofer. “Untitled,” 2014, egg tempera on paper mounted to canvas,
29 1/8h x 23 1/8w in.


Featuring fifteen artists and an incendiary press release that decries what it sees as the preeminence of “soulless” and “anemic” abstraction, “New Image Painting” at Shane Campbell Gallery is a stinging riposte to the kind of contemporary abstract painting that merely serves as “a placeholder for value” and “needs to get out of the way.” In its place, the show presents an alternative vision of art’s recent past that locates figuration and personal narrative front and center.

Many of the thirty paintings on display are self-consciously “bad” in the sense that multiple artists’ seek spatial and proportional “incorrectness” as a means of arriving at visual authenticity. Henry Taylor’s “Where are my brothers keepers” and Torey Thornton’s “Barged Gator” are ham-fisted in their depiction of figures, boats and busses. But their superficial clumsiness, which can be traced back to Matisse via Guston, belies a compositional sophistication that is studied and—paradoxically—abstract. Similarly, William J. O’Brien’s playful works on paper trade in the kind of frenzied “my kid could do that” aesthetic that baffles casual viewers, but delights connoisseurs of gestural abstraction. 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


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 »

Eye Exam: New Moves in Chicago Sculpture

Sculpture 14 Comments »

By Jason Foumberg

It’s an exciting moment for sculpture in Chicago. I’ve tracked a few patterns in contemporary object-making through these nine current exhibitions.

IMG_5281Jun Kaneko at Millennium Park
The newest addition of public art to Millennium Park (for seven months) are dozens of large glazed ceramic sculptures by Jun Kaneko, a Japanese-born, Omaha-based artist who should be familiar to Chicagoans (he’s shown here seventeen times in the past thirty years, but not since 2003.) All of the ceramic sculptures are graphically painted (polka dots, mummy tape) in bright colors. On the Randolph Street side are standing figures, tall and fat as taxidermied bears, but with pig faces and Looney Tunes eyes. There’s a hoard of them, and they’re a little freaky (one has blue nipples). On the Monroe Street side are tablet-shaped objects, the size of tombs, similarly painted. I almost scorned these sculptures—they verge on Cows on Parade kitsch—until I read the artist’s description. The figures are Tanuki, or mythical Japanese trickster characters with jazzy skin and desperate smiles. They’re pleasurably sinister, and a little more non-denominational than the Buddha heads spouting all over Chicago, by Indira Johnson.
Through November 3 at Millennium Park. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Joanne Greenbaum/Shane Campbell Gallery

Painting, Ukrainian Village/East Village No Comments »


Wilco fans have already seen Joanne Greenbaum’s work, though they might not know it. Greenbaum provided cover art for the band’s 2011 “The Whole Love,” as well as illustrations for a fifty-two-page booklet that accompanies the deluxe two-CD edition.

Her forty-two abstract paintings at Shane Campbell Gallery stand as her own kind of concept album. Together, the identically sized sixteen-by-twelve-inch canvases constitute a single experiment in the expressive capacities of gesture. At the same time, each of these pictures rewards close attention, as individual works convey different levels of complexity at the heart of those same gestures. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Chris Bradley/Shane Campbell Gallery

River West, Sculpture No Comments »


Chris Bradley has created a Robert Gober-style sculptural constellation where common objects (pretzel sticks, potato chips, paint rollers) are cast in bronze, painted as real fakes, and presented as fractured icons extracted from a personal narrative. Where Gober’s icons are weighted with psychosexual trauma and Catholic guilt, Bradley’s objects are simply the products of boredom. Not that boredom is bad—Gober has shown us that we all have cages, and that we can dream ourselves out of them. Bradley’s cage is probably his studio, the home of his beer and chip stash. He balances the chips, beer, avocados, chewing gum and other foodstuffs onto lumber armatures and tops them with palm trees so that the shacks punctuate the gray-and-white gallery like little deserted islands. A line of pretzel sticks on the far wall form a horizon line, and there’s a piddling sound of trickling water from a makeshift fountain in a beverage cooler. The sense of a provisional existence is successful, but lacking any foreshadow of risk, magic, fear or fatality just compounds empty upon empty. Junk food totems—sculptural doodles, really—signal somebody captive within, and captivated by, their own life. (Jason Foumberg)

Through April 2 at Shane Campbell Gallery, 673 North Milwaukee.

Review: Anthony Pearson/Shane Campbell Gallery

Photography, River West, Sculpture No Comments »

Anthony Pearson, "Untitled (Tablet)," 2010. Bronze sculpture with silver nitrate patina. Courtesy of the artist; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago; Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York


Small is beautiful in Anthony Pearson’s show at Shane Campbell’s new gallery space on Milwaukee Avenue. This sparse exhibition consists mainly of Pearson’s abstract untitled photographs that are actually pictures of ink drawings the artist made on aluminum surfaces and then discarded. Pearson’s original drawings are also abstract with layered grids crisscrossed by quick brush strokes. By transforming these ink-wash drawings into photographs, Pearson reminds the viewer of the watery darkroom origins of his shimmering silver gelatin prints. The photographs are more than simply a reproduction of his drawings because Pearson solarizes his negatives, reversing the lights and darks, distancing the photographs from the original drawings. The result of this entire process is that Pearson supplants the tactile, textured drawings with their visual record—the relatively flat, low-contrast photographs. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Alex Hubbard/Shane Campbell Gallery

Painting No Comments »


Perhaps the most iconic photographs ever taken of an artist at work (one could almost say “money shots”) are the 1949 images of Jackson Pollock in Life magazine, viewed through a pane of glass that separates his thread of dripping paint from the upturned camera. Alex Hubbard has made a career of documenting this type of masculine performative gesture, videotaping the (often from above, inverting the Pollock image) pushing, spreading, building, arranging, throwing, tearing, cutting and crumpling of a variety of eye-catching objects, by himself and with occasional assistance, in a sort of moving abstraction that borrows both from the ephemeral abstract film tradition of Stan Brakhage and Paul Sharits, and the more tactile photographic compositions of Man Ray and Aleksandr Rodchenko, as well as the still and moving images of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. (Both the topic of abstract photography and Hubbard’s work received separate essays in Artforum this month, in time for Hubbard’s debut in the Whitney Biennial—such is the fickle synergy of the zeitgeist.) Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Jonas Wood/Shane Campbell Gallery

Drawings, Painting 1 Comment »


Jonas Wood’s painting style possesses such a frank matter-of-factness that an initial impression can be, like the work first seems, over-simple. Coupled with a subject matter that includes the juvenilia of sports trading cards, the trap becomes even more difficult to escape. But upon closer inspection, a terrific artistic calculation is uncovered that exposes the painter’s almost morbid fixation on his medium. It is as if the objects in the paintings have been turned into memorials for Wood’s artistic forbearers, Matisse and the early Cubists in particular. Read the rest of this entry »