Author Archives: woojin1992

Distressed figure walking into the contemporary

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago exhibited the show, “Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release”. The show was an introduction of Enrico David’s work to the Chicago audience along with Chicago imagists show at the Art Institute of Chicago called, “Hairy Who?”. Both shows opened on the same week and one probably could find a connection there. The depiction of figure in Enrico David’s work has similar nuance to the depiction of figure in Chicago Imagists. James Yood, renowned Chicago art critic / historian once said that the depiction of distressed figure with spice of humor is a characteristic of Chicago Imagists. It is not so hard for one to figure out that the depiction of distressed figure is predominant in Enrico David’s practice. While Art Institute of Chicago was renouncing Chicago’s art history, MCA Chicago attempted to extend the dialogue by showing a European artist, whose practice carries similar visual concerns with Chicago Imagists, but in a very different context.       

The selection of Enrico David’s twenty years of work was curated in a way that viewer could follow the process of his practice. At the entrance of the exhibition space, there was a waist height sculpture on the left and large-scale figure painting on the right. It was a thoughtful introduction for the curation of the show, starting from image based work and ending with works that carries more of three dimensional concerns. Two works at the gate allowed the viewers to have a sense of Enrico’s practice in terms of broad usage of material and forms.

The exhibition space was largely divided into four spaces. The first space one enters displayed paintings and sculptures. The sculptures were relatively smaller than paintings, and the forms of sculptures were positioned in a way that the viewer could tell the images in paintings were informed by the sculptures. The second space was focused on hanging sculptures, the whole back-wall was left empty. The decision of leaving out the big portion of wall space emphasized the proprioception in a way that the viewer had to reposition oneself to the work in a way that was different from the first space. Third space displayed paintings and sculptures that are not directly related to on another. The last space seemed like his most recent body of work. The fusion between sculpture and functional object was happening. It became more of an attempt to find a relationship between images and objects in a direct and indirect way. The works at the last space were an assemblage of different stages if his practice, which allowed the viewers to exit with questions. The curation generated a narrative between painting and sculpture, starting from definitive relationship to complex relationship to enforced fusion, which seemed cohesive enough keep viewers on track. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago proposed interesting questions to Chicago audience through the show, Enrico David: Gradations of Slow Release. What does it mean that the depiction of distressed figure is widely used in different contexts? How did Imagists position themselves within the distressed figure? What does usage of distressed figure mean in contemporary dialogue? How are we positioning ourselves in distressed figures at the current moment?