A great Chicago non-commercial gallery show to kick off the new year, Alex Chitty (SAIC Alum and faculty) and Zach Reini (Denver Based) have an exciting installment of sculpture, print media, and mixed media based work. The gallery is filled with small wall and floor works accompanied by a few larger sculpture and display case/metal frame arrangements. The reductive gestures of each artists work creates a flow throughout the space that is spot on. Both artist work seem to be influenced by a systematic understanding of information (scientific and biological) from a pictorial standpoint. This is exciting, it links to a kind of pop-media distribution of visual information which often links our culture to more esoteric bodies of knowledge. That, spliced with the ubiquitous language of contemporary painting, creates an animated series of ‘images’ of both the familiar and unknown.
Super excited to hear David Bowie is having his first international art retrospective at the MCA this September.
This past weekend I checked out recent MFA grads Liz Ensz and Jeremiah Jones small exhibition setup in the basement space of Mission Gallery. Liz (fibers & material studies) had 2 graphic based wall works and one large sculptural installation and Jeremiah (FVNM) had 2 video projections displayed on opposing walls of the gallery space. Ensz’s Straitigraph, one of the strongest pieces in the show, is a long pixelated set of overlapping images screened onto a piece of reflective mylar. While the dark basement might not be the best space for viewing the reverent qualities of this print, its reflectivity, large scale, and juxtaposing gradations of mountains-scapes, rocklike formations, and wheat fields still managed to impress my eye. The press release mentions both artist interest in the sublime and the mythology of American history. One can sense from their choice of imagery that both artist have great interest in the history of the American West, particularly the idealism generated from Westward expansion. I feel both artist have manifested the seductive sensibilities that come from exploring unchartered landscapes convencingly into to moving image, print media, and sculpture.
With all due respect, I cant see what the big deal with Christopher Wool is. I had the chance to catch his retrospective at the Guggenheim this past week and was utterly unimpressed. Text paintings that shared the same stencil font as Richard Princes joke paintings, and gestural prints totally devoid of anything to bite into. I guess the process of converting gesture into print and back again is a hinge point for Wool, but it doesn’t seem to be very effective visually.
That isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy some of Wools work. It’s just that the exhibition as a whole was muddy
one of the bright spots of the show were Wool’s photos from the early 90s.
Glenn Ligon’s neon text based work at Luhring Augustine is continuation of the artist lineage of art that toys with issues of race, language, class, sex, and identity. I’ve seen many images of these works online so it was nice to experience them in person within an intimate gallery space. The ambience of the neon glow has quite an effective presence when experiencing this work , something not realized in image. I appreciate how Ligon’s text appears to float of the wall and fuzz into the gallery space, which makes his quirky and satyrical messages even more potent.
By far the best show I saw in Chicago in 2013. Wendy White’s work in Pick Up a Knock attempts to ravel the process of painting with the intensity of a professional soccer match. Each canvas is filled with an airy picture plane that juxtaposes graphical text with atmospheric airbrush marks and washed out images of injured soccer players . This show was tight. Everything from the installation, the arrangement of borders on each canvas, the conceptual connection to ‘flopping’, and the white astro turf, it all jived well together. It’s a shame Wendy didn’t have a room larger than Rafacz’s narrow gallery space because I wanted more.
Chris McCaw’s Making Time at Yossi Milo Gallery showcases the process based artist polarized photographs. McCaw captures the phenomenon of the midnight sun descending over a span of up to 24 hours in the Alaskan summer using specialized large format cameras. The process, which registers directly onto the photo paper, burns holes directly through it as a result of overexposure. McCaw captures the movement of the sun in a reverse polarization to create a ghostly celestial gray toned image. Filled with over 35 pieces, this exhibition took years in the making and effectively displays the artist’s unique take on the traditional B & W photographic process.
Garry Simmons show at Metro Pictures is an extensive catalog of paintings, drawings, and sculptures made over the last 20 years. The work surveys Simmons long quest into the status of race today in contemporary culture through a wide range of mediums and methods. Simmons work, which is at once cheeky, dark, and twisted, seems to be concentrated on the fact that racial concerns can be recirculated and reinvented to generate an alternative lens on their history. His erased blackboard drawings and smeared text paintings suggest an attempt at erasing a loaded history and that through time the significance of racial issues begin to blur and loose resolution.