Marcelino Stuhmer presents several portraits of Puerto Rican actor Henry Silva as the various ethnic villains he has portrayed, whether Japanese, Italian, Korean or Robert Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan. Each depiction is rendered especially for the character, i.e., scruffy paint and sun-scorched colors for Silva’s gunslinger. Together these paintings show a history of ethnic incompetence in film and hint at larger questions at stake in the work. The twelve-foot tall, ten-sided painting-in-the-round, “The Unending Dream,” is a throwback to Victorian panoramic painting. The circle contains sequential but edited screenshots from a dream sequence in 1962’s “The Manchurian Candidate.” As the camera pans around a room the character’s brainwashing wears off turning the surrounding aristocratic women into Communist military officers. The stills form a bluish whirl where gentle and wavering brushstrokes draw attention to the detail in each frame. Viewing the piece makes one aware that she/he takes the role of the camera and removes the passivity of spectatorship. It is the unceasingly appealing nature of Mr. Stuhmer’s hand that validates the panoramic approach and allows the time-based experience to richly grow. (Dan Gunn)
At the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington, (312)744-6630, through April 6.