« "Ahoy, Hoser" | Iconoduel | "Rough Guide to Art Chicago 2004" »

May 2, 2004

Gallery Briefing

On Friday I took a few hours and finally finished off the Rembrandt show. I could have stayed another hour, and I could have spent that hour just staring at his 1659 self-portrait. Kicked out at 4:30, I grabbed a hot dog and hoofed it west down Washington for a speedy jaunt through West Loop gallery openings, then onward to River North.

Overall, it was a mediocre showing, owing in part, I think, to a preponderance of group shows. Understandably, gallerists seem more interested in presenting a cross-section of their artistic stables to the art fair crowd than in taking the risk of a solo show. There were a few highlights, however. A brief run-down:

Kehinde Wiley, "Easter Realness" at Rhona Hoffman

Kehinde Wiley: Easter Realness #3Bright and brash urban rococo, infectious chromophilia. With his 10 foot paintings hung at 45 degrees in gilded frames, it would be hard to accuse Kehinde Wiley of subtlety. His high-key pastels and neons and his figures suspended in fields of florid, if ocassionally heavy, ornamentation take the baroque aesthetics of Bling into gentler, more classical territory. While in some respects I found the constrast between figuration and decoration to be at times a bit too obvious, these paintings, on the whole, cohere nicely by virtue of Wiley's overwhelming use of plastic color.

Friese Undine, "Nature Boy" at Aron Packer

Friese Undine: And at the End of Their Long ConversationIn an area fraught with cliches and recycled politicisms, Friese Undine presents works that are thoughtful, smart and provocative takes on the art of propaganda. (For a counter-example, continue up the stairs to see the archness that is "Advise & Dissent" at FLATFILE Contemporary.) Though they have perhaps an overly studied 'vintage' look, in their harsh 1- and 2-color rigor, Undine's paintings edge towards an intelligent cynicism, featuring mottos such as "Greeted By Lusty Boos And Ardent Bravos," "The Classics Still Deprave Us," "He Instisted That It Was Her Idea," "Our Methods Have Not Led Us To A Precise Destination," "A Center From Which To Gauge Aberration," "Above All I Have To The Best Of My Judgement Convinced Myself," and "Even His Closest Friends Don't Know." These are acrylic amalgams of the social and political that, in the meeting of text and image in an often vague and casual tone, immediately called to my mind Goya's Los Caprichos.

Johanna Billing, "You Don't Love Me Yet" at Vedanta

There wasn't terribly much to see early on at Vedanta. Live music performance was slated for 6-9, but by 6:30 they were still fiddling with projectors and whatnot, and I had to hitch the Brown Line up to River North (dead-set on seeing the Hans Bellmers at Alan Koppel). Still, I nabbed a free CD, which I cycled through a couple times on the drive home.

This show is the culmination of a year-and-a-half live tour and video project constellated around ex-13th Floor Elevator Roky Erickson's "You Don't Love Me Yet." As I understand it they will be showing video in the main gallery of various performances and the CD recording session through June 5, so if you're in the mood for time-based work (as I so often find I am not), you can still partake of this extended collaborative work.

The project room is devoted to a small group offering, including an Erwin Wurm photo I found particularly pleasing, as well as (and this merits mention in and of itself) wall labels. Amazingly, I found myself able to find an artist's name or a title of a piece without laboriously crossreferencing a 5-page list.

Hans Bellmer, "Vintage Contact Prints" at Alan Koppel

Hans Bellmer: La Poupee, 1937/1938Among the Surrealists, Hans Bellmer's perversions are probably the most difficult to rationalize away and arguably the most consistent in their articulation. These tiny hand-colored prints range, in their own peculiar way, from somewhat playful to purely grotesque, from intimate to aggressive. Collectors had better come prepared with deep pockets. On a pink card mount, one of these 4+ square inch prints will set you back $50K; $65K on an original mount.

"Pieces: Compositions of Accumulation", Group Show at Zg

By the time I got to Zg, it proved to be the most cramped party in town, so I didn't get much quality personal time in with the paintings on show. Still, I think this color-heavy exhibit definitely demands a second look, particularly Marcelyn McNeil's work. Also featuring: Martina Nehrling, Jackie Tileston, Molly Briggs.

Group Show at Peter Miller

A group show featuring Peter Miller's usual suspects, including Laurie Hogin, Matt Siber (more), Nicole Gordon, Julie Heffernan, George Rousse, Jason Salavon (more) and yet others.

Urban Rise vs Urban Crush: Kellner at Schneider, Fogelson at Kraft Lieberman

Thomas Kellner: Chicago, Kinzie Street BridgeThomas Kellner's "In America" at Schneider offers a fractured look at familiar architecture, as the artist photographs structures in a piece-meal fashion and rejoins the individual shots in large contact sheets prints, submiting the muddle of the fragment to the sanity of the grid. Doug Fogelson's "Intersections" at Kraft Lieberman tackles the urban fragment through the chaotic refraction of layered photos. Not all are sucessful, but a few are striking. A needed bit of respite is to be found in the project room, devoted to Fogelson's natural imagery. I'm frankly not sure how far beyond neato trickery either Kellner or Fogelson go, but they're worth a gander.
Doug Fogelson: Intersections

"Gallery Briefing"
Posted by Dan at 03:05 AM



Have you, will you, see the last show Klein Art Works? And as a questioning out-of-towner, is he really as loved as the article in the Chicago Journal would have me believe?

Play Ball!

Posted by: Zeke on May 2, 2004 at 07:49 PM

"is he really as loved as the article in the Chicago Journal would have me believe?"

I can't really speak to that. I've been back in Chicago for just a couple of years now and, anyways, I'm no scenester. So I'm hardly the guy with his finger on the pulse of the art community. That said, all of my own impressions are fairly positive.

Have you seen Klein's discussions on art on their web site (http://kleinart.com/html/discussions.html), or the Klein Art Works forum (http://www.kleinart.com/bb/)?

Posted by: Dan on May 5, 2004 at 09:49 AM

Thanks for coming to the show and all that you do to make art visible. This site is a real treasure.

By the way Klein is a really nice guy and has been pushing challenging art for many years at that space. Why not love a gallery owner that gives you breakfast and dinner, let's you chill out on the grounds, and has 1000's of square feet of interesting space in which to play with artists?

Posted by: doug fogelson on May 14, 2004 at 06:14 PM

Everything I see regarding Paul Klein points to him being a strong advocate of local art. I noticed last night, for example, that he is listed among five financial backers of ThreeWalls' nonprofit activites.

In all honesty, how many veteran art dealers/gallerists would you expect to offer advice like this: "Young artists should NOT BE INTIMIDATED by galleries and should be eager to take their work there, if only to say - 'Hey, I am going to get somewhere someday, and I would be flattered if you would have a look at it now. I don't want you to represent me yet, I just want you to see it, and tell me anything you feel like saying'"?

Perhaps I'm too cynical, but I found this a pleasant surprise.

Posted by: Dan on May 15, 2004 at 01:00 PM

Referenced in this post:

13th Floor Elevators: Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
Alan Koppel: Hans Bellmer (PDF)
Aron Packer: Friese Undine
Art Institute: Rembrandt's Journey
Erwin Wurm: Man in Red Carpet
FLATFILE Contemporary: Current Show
Iconoduel: Thursday's Excursion
Jason Salavon
Kraft Lieberman: Doug Fogelson
MFA Boston: Rembrandt Self-Portrait 1659
Matt Siber
Peter Miller
Peter Miller: George Rousse
Peter Miller: Jason Salavon
Peter Miller: Julie Heffernan
Peter Miller: Laurie Hogin
Peter Miller: Matt Siber
Peter Miller: Nicole Gordon
Rhona Hoffman: Kehinde Wiley
Roky Erickson FAQ
Roky Erickson: All That May Do My Rhyme
Schneider: Thomas Kellner
Vedanta: Johanna Billing
Zg: Jackie Tileston
Zg: Marcelyn McNeil
Zg: Martina Nehrling
Zg: Molly Briggs
Zg: Pieces: Compositions of Accumulation