B. David Zarley

March 13, 2017, 12:34pm

Cinema Fatalité: Ben Murray at Monique Meloche

Up close, buried in it, approached with a loupe, it feels like … Christ …. like static on the wire, like the first crepuscular creepings of dextromethorphan—mucilaginous medicine the color old blood sloshing down sulci and optic nerves and then back up again—like a cataract, hot shimmering light and textual fuzz, an uncanny fading in, selachian skin rising up from a great obfuscating darkness—the darkness of the upstairs hallway when someone other than your parents had to put you to bed; the darkness of water the first time you are bifurcated by it; the darkness of every corner after a horror movie; the darkness of depths, of fainting, of dying—which is, despite its nature, because of it? you recognize the darkness, it's the door, but you don't know it, but it's shimmering, glistening, with promise and menace both—don't shark eyes glisten, and cobra hoods, and hypodermic needles, and freshly mopped floors, and sugars and fruits and feathers and halos?—and the simple fact of the matter is, presented with nothing but this great obfuscating black door, cruel Janus!, which seems to shine like the cheek bones of a post-performance circus artist and the soft spears of light the color of heliotropes, the gentle envoys of the blinding OR brightness behind the great obfuscating black door, you have all manner of reference points—a lifetime of them, memories and experiences and impressions and moments—but not a single solitary fucking cardinal direction; is the door holding something back? is it holding you back? should you go through it? should you hope and pray and scream and kick so that you never cross its threshold?

Do you die? – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Ben Murray | CLOSE – DOOR, 2017. Acrylic and ink on canvas, 84 x 78 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Listed under: Review

December 28, 2016, 10:20am

Rebecca Morris: On Blood and Abstraction

Here we have presented, in a perfect circle, as if in a petri dish or memorial china plate or a porthole—which, by the way, is the vanguard of windows, the aperture we gaze at when we want to be kept safely, securely, hermetically safe from whatever is on the other end of the thin pane we slick with the heat of our faces—the kind of pleasing gridded surface, so straight!, so soothing!, so perfectly correct and uniform!, bone white squares cut by aurelian lines ostensibly lineal but in actually imperfect, bulging a bit, a bit sloppy, like a military garrison on parade—so close to perfect, but still (for now) human!—or the grout lines in your bathroom … yes!, it's a bathroom floor, encircled in the petri dish, viewed through the porthole, bathroom tiles gridded out with gold, surrounded by marble (of course!), perfect save a pox, the red of dried blood—it's the brightest color in the whole room, really, this dried-deoxygenated-but-still-too-fresh blood, each splock with its own idiosyncratic hair style, pili radiating as is from the weakest sun, clumping into constellations, gentle parabolic forms like arched eyebrows, carrying in them a sense of ad-hoc exigency, the kinetic beautiful violence requisite for their application demonstrated in their forms, an abstract take on a passage from a Bret Easton Ellis novel—The bathroom reeks of bleach and disinfectant and the floor is wet and gleaming even though the maid hasn't started cleaning in here yet; Glamorama, pg. 256—a form of silent violence, an echo of a moment captured in all of its chaos atop a bone white grid, gleaming with gold, surrounded by marble, a porthole into God's own bathroom…- B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Rebecca Morris | Untitled (#01-16), 2016. Oil and spray paint on canvas, 68 x 69 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago

Listed under: Review

July 01, 2016, 10:42am

Joseph Noderer: The Appalachian Seahorse

There is constant irregular conflict behind the eyes—flash! electronic fusillades jumping viciously into the breach! burning, burning chemical warfare! psychological warfare, of the most personal and literal kind!—whether the brutal bedfellows Mercury and Mars, tussling for dominance and fucking to fuck you, or the constant recce and rendering benign of the dangerous and volatile thoughts accrued from the moment one awakes and slips into Society, or the punching of mirrors, or the delicate handling of nitroglycerin emotions, or the silencing of vicious tongues, or the bolstering of saintly patience, or the valiantly held redoubt, behind which happiness flies beautifully, vulnerably, the tattered and torn through—victim of a thousand missiles, from a thousand enemies, from a thousand directions—standard which, if all goes to plan (hah!) serves as both signal and spur … but few battles of the brain are more foundational, and therefore more potentially devastating, than the Soviet Spy style, low and slow, inevitable conflict between reminiscence and reality, the fungibility of memory a rose-colored radiation, seeping into every sulci, every incident, a terribly malleable foundation—Memory!—for us to build ourselves upon, leaving us all Houses on the Sand … – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Joseph Noderer | McConnells II, 2015. Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches. Photo courtesy of Linda Warren Projects

Listed under: Review

June 06, 2016, 8:18am

Whitney Bedford: The Sinister Sublime

There are the trees, dark forms rising imperiously, and that's ok though, right?, a trick of the light, ombre over eyes, the natural failures of rods and cones—except they are so fucking black, atrous, really, black as coal, carbon, the remnants of fire, a sharp melange of serrations, selachian arcs, brachial bunches of alveoli, histological stains of striated muscle, pied abrasions, a forest seared into a wall, ashen memory, holocaustic photograph of a nuclear flash-lamp—and there is the sky, brilliant orange, too orange, unnaturally orange, not the color of monarch butterflies or poison dart frogs or innumerable other toxic lifeforms, not the color of citrus or lantanas or marigolds—dreadfully close to poppies, however—but safety orange, menacing safety orange, the kind commercial fishermen wear to be plucked from the black maw of the sea or hunter's place like a cuirass to protect against the accidental rending of human flesh, orange like the apocalypse, like literal and burning heat death, like the first and last glow of an existential risk, Nacarat Extinction, and it is apparent that East of Eden lies a place alien, fearful, sublime, hot and vibrating like catgut, verdant shoots even now erupting from the carbon and man-overboard-orange, and in the curve of the trees against the sky there is something pareidolic, a ghost in the nature, the SunSetter brow of an emaciated gorilla, perhaps, or, chest towards us, stereoscopic eyes thankfully looking away in majestic profile, the lean form of an ancient, savage, leopard, soft-gummed and eyeteeth innervate with pain, the kind which drags us, supposed Apex Animals, Fauna-cum-Gods, screaming into the impenetrable Cimmerian night, Jim Corbett save us!, sacred heart and sacred gun, the snuffing out of the flashes in the pan that turned the trees to cinder and the sky to fear. –  B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Whitney Bedford | The I do – I will, 2016, ink and oil on canvas on panel, 5 x 8 feet. Photo by Evan Bedford, courtesy of Carrie Secrist Gallery

Listed under: Review

April 25, 2016, 9:07am

Suzanne Gold: Hypoxic Serenity

Well now… and just what in the fuck are you doing here, hmm?, suspended or rising or, fuck, sinking, but underwater all the same, completely ensconced in this cool, sterile little personal void, a pet abyss in somebody's back yard, all over your head at the bottom of a David Hockney painting, the anti-body fluid which releases your limbs and evokes a feeling of weightlessness, even as you sink, cool, calm, muted, in color and temperature and tone and vibe and feel and yet you are burning, immolating?, burning in the eyes—those chemicals, the chemicals of preventive healing … the entire thing, the in-ground pool, is, after all, little more than a highly cultivated, perfect, meticulous planned, and violently executed wounding of nature, the leveling, the digging, the shattering of any earth which dares resit—Jesus, remember the mournful howls and paroxysmal wails of the car alarms, the whole development screaming and jabbering and chittering, like big frightened birds, when that massive jackhammer came down, down, cracked the obstinate, rattled walls, windows, pictures, homes, set those crying beasts shaking on their suspensions—and then, upon the wound's completion, the endless prevention of healing, the shoring up of the gouge with concrete, the endless application, testing, balancing, and application again of a myriad of chemical agents to kill, relentlessly, to remove life from your water, to create a private sea antiseptic, safe, unflaggingly beautiful—and burning, relentless, desperate burning in your chest, and you are alone at the bottom of that sea, a world of off-white filtered through water, tiles the horizon line between here, which is beautiful and cold and clean and where you most assuredly do not belong, and there, with its air, its sound, its sun, its unfiltered light … the light, the light dances across the tile line, some of it finding its way to the bottom, to you, some of it being arrested, locked into a dark form, on the deck, some of it hurtling quixotically towards the pool's surface, shattering itself against the top, exploding into clinquant little pieces, the brilliant light of sun, of the surface, of life … of hypoxia? - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Suzanne Gold | The deep end, 2016, screen print on canvas, 65 x 41 inches. Photo by Cory Malnarick

Listed under: Review

March 06, 2016, 8:15pm

Andrew Holmquist: Beyond the Crimson Veil (With Apologies to Doctor Strange)

They hang long and heavy, something intimidating, candy-apple colored strips of heavy plastic and the mien they give off is industrial, a hint of alien aggressiveness, a slight soupcon of stay-the-fuck away like the lolling tongues of junkyard dogs or the K-9 unit on a high ride on the elevated train, breaking up Carrie Secrist gallery into … theaters, one supposes, Stage Left and all, and these massive curtains of heavy welding screens, beside making one think of the warehouse space in the back of a grocery store, besides adding immediate and indispensable curatorial heft and aegis for the observer—there is so much here, both conceptually and literally, Andrew Holmquist being an obviously inquisitive artist and Stage Left an ambitious undertaking, and having it all broken into more manageable sections is not only the smart thing to do, but the requisite thing to do—is to illustrate, in a simple, clever way that one will most likely not at first notice, the great thesis threading the whole thing together, that presentation and medium are to be bred like plants (or, of course, dogs!) and brought to heel, for the expression of various forms in various ways are inevitably linked, the old Marshall McLuhan idea, except played with, blown out, beautiful flowers on the old doctor's grave, and the easiest way to see this is to stand on one side of those heavy dog-tongue candy-apple screens, and look at the paintings Holmquist has placed on the other side—thrown into stark relief! defenestrated and tossed into a grey space of line and angle, soft ashen abyss—and then, most likely with gallery director/Holmquist elucidator Britton Bertran's encouragement, to push through the heavy curtains, which requires, let's not kid ourselves, a bit of work, definitely more than one would expect, being heavy as they are, and zap, the paintings scream to voltaic life, color and motion, no longer filtered through the heavy red, the medium and message—here, one supposes, the medium is the air, the rods and cones, the curtain, the space, the exhibition—instantly transformed, and one is, with apologies to Doctor Strange, beyond the crimson veil! - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Andrew Holmquist | Installation view through the welding screens. Photo by RCH|EKH, courtesy of Carrie Secrist Gallery

Listed under: Review

February 04, 2016, 1:54pm

Erin Washington: Dust to Dust

These colors survive— not, notice, thrive, or flourish, or bloom, although some do carry a floral note about them and all are temptingly considered as analogous to the anemone, beauty from blood, pain—most explicitly beyond the pale, on the periphery, the edge, the places carrying head on out beyond the solid and material plane and hanging, like gravid pauses, over nothing, like Odin from Yggdrasil or street lamps, incandescent color suspended over and illuminating voids, gaps, prismatic trimmings buried like the K/Pg boundary, a band of violence and romance and the proliferation of things difficult to recognize, study, taxonomize, comprehend, so that one looks at, say, a marvelous representation of a Hellenic-style sculpture of a woman's face and neck, Ruin and cosmic dust, in chalk!, becomes absorbed in the kinetic nature of it, of the legion of little cuts and scores which birthed her, the beak and talon marks of Prometheus' eagle in the long-coagulated, tar-like chalkboard blood of the perpetually riven, of the elegant curve of a neck, the carotid groove, being summoned from the most didactic of mediums, the upper lip and eyes piled up as if from snow, the bridge of the nose resting like Golgotha, the dogwood beams born across her forehead—no room for Pallas to get out of there!—and the small nebulae and clouds of uncrossed tally marks and all this hermetic, glorious, intricate beautiful stuff and suddenly screaming out there on the edge is this band, the colorful K/Pg layer, running like snakeskin or a Fruit by the Foot along the upper corner, process yellow and grapefruit flesh and paint-cap-groove green, and the one notices it, too, throughout the painting now, flashes of color, of inspiration!, crocuses in a black snow. - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Erin Washington | Ruin and cosmic dust, 2015, chalk, acrylic, and gouache on panel, 20 x 16 inches. 
Photo courtesy of Zolla/Lieberman

Listed under: Review

November 24, 2015, 8:08am

Renee McGinnis: The Lazarus Fleet

Their faces are, for the most part, turned up in the universal angle of defiance—haughty! powerful! the coquettish imperial bearing of models, trusting—fervently praying—that what they have heard, what is whispered and shouted and injected into their very marrow is true, that their beauty is their birthright, that the aesthetic will hold, that pulchritude is a redoubt, impossibly thin but improbably strong—their noses aimed slightly forward to the sky, their strong, powerful lines—slavish lines, lines built with all of the force, knowledge, technology, hubris humanity can offer—their vanguard and leading edge, a knifing into the eventide they are doomed to forever ply, no, should!, should forever ply!, but are not, are resting ghoulishly atop the waves, and who could deny The Girls their defiant turn, their dangerous angle, being dead as they are? It is their final wish, their visual hagiography, the last cruise of the Lazarus Fleet, the dead risen from the depths, their opulence decayed and wearing gilt upon their prows, singing a mournful banshee's song, the churn of the screw and the pounding of the sea accented by the rhythmic clang of a skeletal pelvis hanging from the rode…- B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Renee McGinnis | MS Sea Horse, 2013, oil on mdf panel, 48 inch diameter. 
Photo courtesy of Renee McGinnis

Listed under: Review

October 26, 2015, 9:00am

Nina Rizzo: Environmental Impact

It takes a moment for the eyes to adjust—atavistic mimesis! faux-fear, sympathetic nervous system goosing, the ultimate success of the palette of the night!—and for the wild bereavement of the eyes being divorced from the mind to subside, basic outlines, the context, the color, the safety, to materialize like haints in the gloaming, signposts and sirens demarcating and drawing through the darkness, through midnight and navy blues, still-warm oxblood, unfathomable purples, shadows thick enough to smother, to obfuscate, to kill, great ragged heaping breaths—ribcage expanding gulps—in the brief flashes —royal! the sky? a flower?—which open like false editorial spread irises to provide for the killing of Kurtz and the comforting recognition of shapes, shapes engorged, swollen sweet and suspended, striated like carapaces or the long, primed, puckered muscles of the thigh, like ladders from Pluto, the fat wet tongues of leaves lapping against and pulling the eyes, as if by slow jungle steamer, into and through Nina Rizzo's Conradian jungle. –  B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Nina Rizzo | Long Night in the Garden, 2015, oil on canvas, 60 x 120 inches. Photo courtesy of Linda Warren Projects

Listed under: Review

July 15, 2015, 8:39am

Space: Edie Fake at Western Exhibitions

The blood is voltaic, salt and copper and life and death, flowing fast and high around the fever dream haemalducts of Edie Fake's The Blood Bank, imbued with a passionate glow which seems to radiate in juxtaposition with the cold, flat surfaces—marble? tile? stone?—which constitute its flowing surface, a room of stately and imposingly beautiful columns and arches, its facade shot through with sharp geometry, like a thousand black shark's teeth on pallid sand, the columns topped with ornate weeping bull's eyes; a dazzling array of colors—rococo patterns formed from tiles the color of salmon and toothpaste, bands of claret and powder blue, jade and bubblegum, lace of electric orange-red—is lost to the eye by the great flowing blood's final destination, a pool fit for a Bathory, its deep center a rich bordeaux, fed by the blood flowing through the veins around the room's ceiling, flowing hot—like lava around the edge of a caldera—hot in color and consequence, biologically and ethically, burning in memory with fear, anger, paranoia, colored the red of passion and hazard both, blood from them, blood begetting panic, the blood of the AIDS crisis, the dread invisible specter preying on the edges, closing the bath houses and haunting the blood banks,  a nightmare, blood a commodity and curse, the mark of Cain and the gift of vigor, forever pouring into Fake's pool, which must be deep, deeper than the sea, to never jump its cold, slick sides, leaving not so much as a patina as its waves lap and stop with a clinical precision, and one stares into the sanguineous abyss, is presented—with disconcerting pulchritude—the horrors of a not-so-distant past, a spiritual kind of hemorrhagic shock. –  B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Edie Fake | The Blood Bank, 2015, ink and gouache on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Photo courtesy of Western Exhibitions

Listed under: Review

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