For his most venturesome, innovative and conceptually provocative series to date, Chicago photographer Larry Chait gathered bright multi-hued dead leaves that had holes near their centers, scanned them into the computer, heightened their contrast and blackened the holes, and printed the resulting images in rich color. Without the irregular black holes, Chait’s studies would be lush, involving and densely complex abstractions that would hold fast our gaze; with the impenetrable dark voids, his images invite meditation on the absolute death of which decay is the harbinger. Chait is most effective when the obtrusive and dominating vacancies are surrounded by the liveliest patterns of glowing colors, as when he shows us two slits about to merge amid a veined mélange of greens, oranges, yellows and browns. A close look shows that the leaf will soon crumble, yet at normal viewing distance the subject appears to be vibrantly alive, only marked by the signs of the reaper, as everything is. Chait gives us existential nature photography assisted by technology. (Michael Weinstein)
Through July 2 at Harold Washington College President’s Gallery, 30 East Lake.