Golden Gallery, which has seen success in Lakeview for the past three years, is opening a franchise in SoHo. The new space debuts with a solo show by Aspen Mays, and the gallery will be run by former Chicago-based gallery director Andrew Blackley. Golden’s Lakeview locale will open September 23 with work by Anthea Behm, whose art fuses “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” with Theodor Adorno’s critical theory. Peregrine Program, operated by artist Edmund Chia, has relocated from the “Spice Barrel District” in Pilsen to the 3300 block of West Carroll Avenue, joining a growing gallery district currently populated by Devening Projects, New Capital, Jackson Junge and Julius Caesar. Peregrine pays tribute to its new Julius Caesar building mates with a show of their artwork. The DePaul Art Museum opens its new three-story space on Fullerton Avenue on September 17 with an exhibition dedicated to a selected history of Chicago visual art, titled “Re: Chicago.” [Read more…]
One of the essential elements of life and a universal symbol, water takes on a multitude of meanings, as the three photo-artists—two Chinese and one from India—demonstrate exquisitely in this thought-provoking show. Attracted by water’s purifying and healing powers, Song Dong transcended his grief over his father’s death by making a large stamp of the Chinese character for water and then plunging into a Tibetan lake with it, shooting color performance photos of himself impressing the stamp on the water in a devotional exercise filled with thrashing and splashing. Not to be outdone, Wang Wei snapped himself in color with his head immersed in a large glass bowl as he contorted his face in the gruesome expressions of a drowning man. In a reminder of from whence we came and still remain, Reena Kallat shows us twenty-five different women elegantly knitting the blood-red letters of the sentence, “OUR BODIES ARE MOLDED RIVERS.” (Michael Weinstein)
Through November 24 at Walsh Gallery, 118 North Peoria.
Is there a contemporary Chinese photographer whose work is not worth a close look? Gao Lei continues with the unbroken string of cutting-edge images from China that have hit Chicago in the last five years while he breaks with the dominant postmodern trend, by going global in his choice of subjects and shooting documentary series in black-and-white. Lei traveled to the Gaza strip with neither a sentimental humanistic, a political, nor a photo-journalistic intent, but to explore the “harshness” of a place that curator Wu Hung explains represented for Lei “the purgatory of contemporary mankind.” Lei’s pellucid, finely tonally graded prints reveal that harshness when we see a row of masked fighters with their assault rifles; two men shot from behind leaning anxiously over a wall as a little girl faces the camera with grim bitterness in the foreground; and a mother sitting straight in a chair, her expression fixed in stony stoicism, as her wounded and bandaged son sits on the floor in front of her in sullen pain. Gao Lei is a documentary poet, transmitting a truth lying beneath the surface. (Michael Weinstein)
Through June 19 at Walsh Gallery, 118 North Peoria
Michiko Itatani is on a spiritual quest, not just in her current paintings, but in the entire sequence of nine themes that have spanned forty years of her career. With titles like “Movement,” “Body,” “Self/Others” and “Micro/Macro,” she has systematically explored the natural and human world within and without. As she moved further into the new millennium, she finally left our suffering planet behind, especially in the two parts of her latest series that she calls “Personal Codes.” In one part, “Hyper Baroque,” she presents interior views of what seems to be a spaceship. The interior looks like a fantastic hotel ballroom, somewhere beyond O’Hare, but it also contains a library with sixty-foot-high bookshelves and globes for each of the planets that it has visited. All this imaginary architecture is wonderfully luminescent. Beyond that, she has envisioned what a Buddhist might recognize as the “pure land” or “Western paradise”—that empty but sacred place that has been the goal of Japanese culture since the eighth century. To stand in a room enveloped by Itatani’s wall-size gray-and-white “Moonlight/Mooring” paintings is probably as close as any of us are going to get to achieving it. Which is to say, these paintings belong in a temple rather than a living space. Almost all these paintings feature a mysterious necklace of lights that seems to indicate a supra-human presence. The evident craft in all of these productions is staggering. (Chris Miller)
Through April 17 at Walsh Gallery, 118 N. Peoria.
In a twenty-first century postmodern replay of Hieronymous Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly
Delights,” Chinese photo-artist Miao Xiaochun has produced a nine-panel series of richly colored digital photographs depicting his densely populated visions of heaven and hell. Following the master’s lead of grim and bizarre fancy, Miao’s most arresting image takes us to the bottom of a contemporary inferno where we see naked human figures crawling, clustering and collapsing amidst a litter of instruments, machines and contraptions, as conflagrations of conflict ignite above the chaotic scene. Each one of the seemingly endless details deserves inspection for its own symbolism; in the lower-left corner, a man has been impaled against a massive computer keyboard, having been pilloried in a clock so that his head sticks out of its face and his legs jut out of its frame. That is only the beginning of the eye candy that Miao has in store. (Michael Weinstein)
Through September 5 at Walsh Gallery, 118 N. Peoria
Although it is loaded with conceptual explanation concerning tradition, globalization, imperialism, and cultural hybridism and interchange, Sheba Chhachhi’s installation of light boxes, in which images of Buddhist pilgrim monks proceed across brightly colored photographic landscapes and birds soar above them on moving spools of film, is best enjoyed as an array of intriguing scenes that are geared to captivate the child in us and put a sweet and mirthful smile on our faces. The monks in their thick traveling robes are the most entrancing of all, because Chhachhi cannot make them stride and is left with having them appear to be on a moving walkway as they journey through the desert. In sharp contrast to “Winged Pilgrims and Other Creatures,” “Silver Sap” is a series of unsparing straight black-and-white studies of older women’s bodies in fine detail that are meant to “recuperate the female body from dominant market and mediatic representations”—a return to hardcore feminism that has become familiar this season. (Michael Weinstein)
Through April 25 at Walsh Gallery, 118 N. Peoria
Self-taught and clearly influenced by Cy Twombly’s embodied mark-making and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s expressionistic graffiti scrawl, Von Kommanivanh’s artwork is experienced viscerally in staccato moments of almost whimsical violence. He is most successful in the largest paintings whose worked surfaces swarm with armies of cartoon-like figures wielding bloody scythes and nuclear warheads. Kommanivanh’s interest in cultural criticism and anti-war protest holds him back in some places—the more literal, the more he limits the strongest aspects of his work: its manic energy and unsettling juxtapositions. Kommanivanh is a Laos native and it’s hard not to wonder what he thinks of Brad Kahlhamer, the Native American artist whose paintings about identity and alienation Kommanivanh’s so strikingly resemble. The found-object flying-ship assemblages included in the current show provide its most straightforward pleasure. Standing amidst the hanging ammo shells, discarded utensils, fur, gears, feather, rope and metal scrap, it is easy to imagine oneself having stumbled into a mad general store run by an artist of terrifying imagination. (Rachel Furnari)
Through March 21 at Walsh Gallery, 118 N. Peoria.