Frank Vavruska’s exhibit, “The Horizon Is a Circle,” encapsulates the history of art in both style and context through a series of paintings masterfully collected at Corbett vs. Dempsey Gallery. The collection showcases some of his most successful work from the artist’s career, a period spanning 1942 to 1956. Stylistic influences range from expressionism to cubism to pure abstraction, all of which reflect significant events in Vavruska’s life and time in Chicago, London and the Yucatan Peninsula, in Mexico. The early expressionist paintings possess a flatness of construction, but subtly highlight his transition into more cubist work. Pieces such as “Untitled (Mexican River Scene)” and “Air Raid Sirens Sounding Over London” focus on specific events or places, yet they lack visual depth. Conversely, his later work, composed of purer abstractions, provide an abundance of depth while lacking a clear context. The work is primarily oil on canvas in earth tones with a smattering of vivid colors woven into the background, such as scarlet stars or an emerald green rooftop. The subject matter is so widely ranged, it may seem as though the exhibit contains three separate artists, but the common element of Vavruska’s work is in the careful placement of abstract patterns. These patterns become the focal point for his later work, which are richly layered abstractions, reminiscent of Klee or De Kooning. Frank Vavruska was based in Chicago and lived from 1917-1974. His work reminds us that the horizon, like art, can be more than a straight line. (Shama Dardai)
Through August 23 at Corbett vs. Dempsey, 1120 N. Ashland.