In this compact exhibition curated by Allison Glenn, landscape serves as a metaphorical ground for four artists’ expansive manipulations of imaginary sites. Each of the works evince traces of fragmentation, collapse and compression, processes that appear here as gestures enacted on sites that are more the spaces of memory and history than they are physical terrains.
On opposite walls, Caroline Kent’s sculptural acrylic on wood paintings hang in low relief, the tactile painterly brushstrokes on their surfaces in direct tension with the sculptural gestalt of these beguiling objects. Although they appear to be carved subtractively, they are in fact built constructions and thus call up architecture as a sculptural endeavor, or vice versa. Robert Burnier’s “Cirkaû,” a blue and tan composition painted over an arrangement of thick panels, draws painting more fully into this conflation of space as it is inhabited by dimensional objects and space as it is rendered as an image on flat surface. Displayed on a white plinth, the sculptural presentation of Burnier’s painting is at odds with the smooth, painterly gradients spread over the surface of the work, which is fragmented into eight square panels with thickness enough to return the work to the realm of sculpture. Conversely, Burnier’s “Griza Intervalo” hangs from the wall with the low profile of a painting, its shadowed pockets and crinkles appearing as if they were painted on its surface, and yet the folded aluminum that creates these effects presents the undeniable volume of sculpture.
Hung off the wall and bedecked with black tasseled fringe, Lisa Alvarado’s “Traditional Object 6” is a tapestry and also a painting that combines these media to interrogate expectations of the assumed dissociation of the abstraction of contemporary art from its corollaries in non-Western artistic traditions. Similarly, the stair-like constructions depicted in Assaf Evron’s “Untitled (Athens and Oraibi)” are based on a Pueblo structure with resonance in modernist sculptural constructions. Landscape is a field that situates the indeterminate media and conflated cultures that unite this spare but potent gathering of objects and drive the exhibition’s concise and compelling inquiry into abstraction’s entanglements with space, place and history. (Elliot Reichert)
Through May 31 at Chicago Urban Art Society Satellite Space at Mana Contemporary, 2233 South Throop.