Chris Dorland has been painting utopian architecture for several years now, creating pictures that indulge in gorgeously threatening baroque colorations, and that have a strange Piranesi-like splendor. And like most commercial architects’ renderings, they have those tiny little token people often seen going about their business—but in Dorland’s work the little people evoke dread, fear, fleeing crowds. Rhona Hoffman is showing a variation on this body of work in a series of “Simulations.” Appropriated photos are collaged and then painted, painstakingly, in the manner of Gerhard Richter. Complex arrangements of rectangular panels are painted in corrosive colors and bleached images. To call this series of paintings “simulations” nods to Baudrillard’s book of the same name, but this is not a recycled, art-school postmodernism; something different is going on here. These pictures have the aura of a performance, of technical experiments or tests. It is as if the artist has achieved Warhol’s desire of becoming a machine, and we are in the presence of some parody of the occult technical processes that lie behind the everyday world. (David Mark Wise)
At Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 118 North Peoria, through May 30.