Chicago

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

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

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

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

April 17, 2015, 8:39am

Angel Otero: The Scarlet Self

There are entire worlds—entire existences—suspended within there, floating up to gazes which have been detached long enough—or ran down, heaving and glassy eyed, caned and fatigued—to pick up on such things, looming forms ascending like the prophetic pyramid out of the cuttlefish-ink abyssal  underbelly of an 8-ball, rising and falling and materializing out of the blood brume; there are entire continents, cream continents adrift in an angry sea of cadmium, a granular expanse—as if someone chunked up a block of anatomist's arterial wax, dumped it into a pneumatic cannon, and proceeded to broadside raw canvas—ripe for pareidolia. Their borders are fringed, cloudy, a particulate demarcation of crimson gnats, and that fuzz is really what the fuss is all about, an adroit—if blatant, once one sees it—analogue to the fungible nature of perception, memory, and self; there are images contained within the blood brumes, although it is only by the grace of Angel Otero's exposition that we are privy to this, as they have been translated, riven, reconstituted, and then pressed—like a witch!—into their current, beautifully abused form; these were photographs once, the ultimate form of mimesis, until a triturator has placed his hands upon them, riven them, splayed them…and look at the bloody, powdery mess made of ipseity now!  – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Angel Otero | I am the place I come back to, 2015, silicone and cadmium pigment on canvas, 96 x 120 x 2 inches. Photo courtesy of Kavi Gupta.

Listed under: Review

April 06, 2015, 10:13am

John Sabraw: Pulchritude from Pollution

There's these streams, these, like … death streams, running all along the hollers and open wounds and scars and deep, dark hills of southeastern Ohio, like in Athens county or Crooksville, Sunday Creek country, these fucking chameleon streams, born crystal virgin pure—a hideous faux-virginity! pure fatality, no other kind of purity suspended in there!—and eventually, running along like Leiningen's ants or pyroclastic flows or Kali, in that dread, beautiful motion, which sweeps life away, they eventually begin blooming into this fabulous reddish-orange, the color of rafflesia petals, and running along with nothing but gravity and iron and sulfuric acid in it, no aquatic life at all. This ichor flows all along the hills, perfectly beautiful and perfectly deadly, a conflation of the earth and the vicious byproducts we left when we entered the earth, gross seeping wounds we didn't bother to cauterize or seal properly when they stopped sustaining us, when the black precious coal could no longer be found, when blood from a stone no longer made economic sense, and after we left the earth cut open, vivisected and scooped out, it sat still and decided to slowly poison us, poison the fish and crawdads and deer, in vengeful retribution. – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


John Sabraw | Arco, 2015, oil on canvas, 96 x 62 inches, Photos courtesy of Thomas McCormick Gallery

Listed under: Review

February 26, 2015, 7:39am

Joy of Flighty: Rebecca Shore at Corbett vs Dempsey

Now here is a piece of art with a burlesque sensibility: Rebecca Shore's 20, whose Cambridge blue undercarriage, gartered in a lascivious claret, is thrust out to the viewer in come-hither sharp angles with a celerity that implies confidence and a bit of coquettish teasing rather than desperation—note that this brazen display of usually subdued dimensions will not be readily apparent if one comes up off the stairs into Corbett vs Dempsey running along the wall whisker-bound like a house mouse; abstract art favors the brave—and invites the viewer up its ascending staircase—a second set of stairs!—into an exhibition comprised of familiar motifs and vibes and colors and sensations predominantly sans any mimetic analog, which, yes, abstract art is meant to do, albeit not always so adroitly. – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Rebecca Shore | 20, 2014, acrylic on linen on panel, 14 x 16 inches. Photo by Tom Van Eynde, courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs. Dempsey

Listed under: Review

January 23, 2014, 3:35pm

Perpendicular Painting: Zoe Nelson at Western Exhibitions

Record collectors are only ever concerned with what track is on the a-side. Not many will pay attention to, or often even know, what exists on the flip of their 45s. An exhibition of Zoe Nelson’s (NAP #95, #107) newest paintings, currently on view at Western Exhibitions, questions the very nature of a “good side.” My go-to reference for Nelson’s work has always been its lyrical qualities – though this exhibition references the history of that trope in painting as much as it does an x-y coordinate system. What better way to reference the spatial placement of the work than through its Cartesian properties? For Nelson, the grid is treated not as a pretext, but as a challenge. Paintings extend off the wall, appearing to fill the visual gap of the wall space left behind it – the sound or harmony within the work, if the exhibition has such an affect, directly plays off their relation to the viewer, as if the exhibition itself is a changing composition, shifting space ever so slightly as the viewer navigates around it.

While Nelson’s past paintings were entirely evocative of Supprematist abstractions, the new work exists more dimensionally, in the round. Favoring a democratization of space – or we could just as easily say the flipside – the “front” or the “back” of her paintings seem to not exist, or be discernable. There is an equality to the treatment of the painting’s entire surface area as an object that speaks to retelling of dated mid-century patterns and ideologies; a history of steadfast modernism unhinged from its context. In line with its audile perspective, the emphatic physical presence of the work maintains a discordant tension – at once occupying space, as it attempts to flatten it. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


Installation photographs by James Prinz. Image courtesy of Western Exhibitions and Zoe Nelson.

Listed under: Review

January 13, 2014, 8:40pm

Paul Cowan: Parallel Processing at Shane Campbell

Generosity is rarely immediately questioned when viewing an exhibition for the first time. It is often a given in the work, in many ways expected, though it is not to be underestimated. In his current exhibition on view at Shane Campbell, Parallel Processing, local painter Paul Cowan stages a void – a scarceness of information and material that favors a sparse collection of work, mainly a flush series of monochromes with minimal demarcations. In a very pop delineation of surface reflection, the canvases represent windows. They do not look within, or reflect anything other than their own emphatic presence. - Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor


Installation view, BCEAUSE THE SKY IS BULE, 2013. Chroma-key blue paint on canvas. 78h x 41w in each.

Listed under: Review

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