For Dutch artist Jan van der Ploeg’s first exhibition with Shane Campbell Gallery, he brought his paintings to the United States in his luggage, reminding me of the “Suitcase Paintings” exhibition at the Loyola Museum of Art last year, which featured small-scale Abstract Expressionist work that was (or could be) likewise transported via luggage.
In both cases, attention to scale is very important. Van der Ploeg composes his hard-edge geometric abstractions so that even though they are physically small, they have a large presence due to the sense that their organization could extend beyond the edges of the canvas.
Going beyond the edges is something that van der Ploeg has in mind. In addition to the five paintings on view, van der Ploeg has also created a wall painting specifically for the gallery space. Including relations to specific architecture in his work by rhyming with forms like the gallery’s light tracks and vents, van der Ploeg says that the wall painting is similar to monumental paintings on canvas, and certainly both strive to command space. The wall paintings have linked this artist with graffiti, but he seems more at home in the gallery than the street.
Van der Ploeg describes his painting as being like a street sign rather than a “window,” a sentiment I have heard echoed by Chicago artists also working in hard edge geometric abstraction. It would seem that this reinvigoration of the genre is an international phenomenon. (Abraham Ritchie)
Through May 9 at Shane Campbell Gallery, 1431 W. Chicago.