“Isn’t It,” sculpture. The question-as-title “Isn’t it?” refers to the trompe o’leil effect that some of the works in Tony Wight Gallery’s group show employ. The eye-fooling works of Ivin Ballen and Pello Irazu are castings of studio maquettes. Irazu’s pieces are small wooden compositions transferred into aluminum and then painted. More contentious are the fiberglass replicas by Ballen. Cast largely from cardboard and duct tape sculptures, they are then painted to again resemble duct tape and cardboard. Ballen’s ornamentation also creates spatial illusions with intense changes in color and texture. All of this effort creates a street-kid art aesthetic of found materials and spray-paint attitude. But why create them out of another material except for them to last longer? Across town at the MCA Jeff Koons’ inflatables made of steel solidify an image of contemporary mass culture and here Ivin Ballen calcifies an equally commercial “street” image. But Ballen’s work looks especially disingenuous next to Tamara Zahajkevich’s delicate foam core assemblages. What’s so charming in Zahajkevich’s work is the fragility exemplified by a piece like “soft spot murray,” a shimmering tangle of pale pink sharkskin paint and leopard print on paper over a foam core armature. The edges of paper show, and it’s those imperfections that make the piece feel spontaneous and credible. Separate from the conversation is Richard Rezac’s work. His materials seem chosen for their attendant properties and not in spite of them. The painted wood and metal constructions are more about balance and repetition than illusion or fakery. The question of “Isn’t it?” isn’t about realness, for each work is equally a construction, but about posture. Ballen’s detritus feel like immutable relics while Zahajkevich’s whimsies feel like fleeting wonders. (Dan Gunn)
Through August 16 at Tony Wight Gallery, 119 N. Peoria.