Review

November 18, 2017, 9:11am

John McAllister: Shimmering Surface, Phosphorescent Undertow

Beauty is a troublesome thing; but pleasure is even worse.  Beauty offers ecstasy in redemptive and occasionally bittersweet truths. Pleasure, on the other hand, is grounded in desire, and desire invites all manner of perilous things.  Like a riptide snaking its way towards shore, pleasure cloaks itself as beauty, luring the unsuspecting in and then drawing them out to sea. - Alan Pocaro, Chicago Contributor


John McAllister | botanic haunting soft-static, Installation View. Photo Courtesy of Shane Campbell Gallery

Listed under: Review

October 10, 2017, 12:51pm

Cassie Marie Edwards: The Porcelain Menagerie

What they lack in accuracy—or, like, even resemblance—they more than make up for with essence, with vibe, you know?, the kind of exaggerated impossible realness one finds in boardwalk caricaturists and political cartoonists and magical realists that serves as shorthand and signature and x-ray and fMRI all at once … the owl, white as terror and blank as fear, for example, the cold, clean lack of hue that instantly calls to mind Empire, logic, rhetoric, chin tucked and beak silent under brows pointed as the tip of the spear, his wing falling across his shoulder and back like a pallium, a majestic senatorial little creature, from Minerva's court to the curio cabinet … or take whatever beast that is, with its haughty pout and crimson lip, tarantula leg eye lashes and pink bow, perhaps a puppy but reading more as a kitten—anatomy be damned!—as she most definitely possess that ruling feline trait, the intoxicating insouciance with which they have courted our love and desire for approval for centuries, that fickle heart blown out, amplified, drawn across her lips, looking like the love interests that would drive old Tom to mutilate himself in search of a living gift … and then the lesser critters of the copse and field, the squirrels and rabbits and chipmunks and fawns and field mice, arrested and frozen—animals which vibrate with anxious muscle and survival instinct—and finally able to be examined, loved, doted on, adored, those fleeting moments when one locks eyes before the animal in questions dashes away, your lingering love banging like a chestburster against its ribcage, tearing through yards and hedges while you are tearing with unrequited affections, well, we've fixed them, haven't we, all of them, twisted nature yet again—and not without true ecological impact, as is, being the mightiest of earth's creatures, our wont—and created bespoke wild for the everyday person, a one-time cost collection of pets to keep in the home, evoking both recoils and coos, the porcelain menagerie…- B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Cassie Marie Edwards | Uninterested, oil on canvas, 2017. 16 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Review

July 12, 2017, 8:39am

Positive Mass: Chris Uphues at Linda Warren Projects

It's radiant, really, fucking radiant  in that flat-flash, bursting way, the terrible beautiful brilliance of a blank screen or the momentary dawning of a second, subjected sun—wrought by us, meant for us, heat and power of the kind which makes people gods—over a blighted Pacific atoll, radiant and giving off a palpable …vibe, a kind of psychic heat, Heavy Sunshine, buzzing from the apian engine which drives it with the cosmic exigency which only derives from density, an immensely dense little star of positivity, happy imagery—flowers, mountains, clouds, houses, bees, bunnies, books, baseballs, brick facades, bananas, watermelon slices, apples and pineapples and mushrooms, computer monitors, keys, clocks, lampshades, pyramids, the majority made animate, all gaping eyes and content smiles stretching across their faces like cats in a sunbeam—condensing into a heavy star, loosed now and setting in to a dark sea obliterating, by virtue of its weight, all that lays before it, so long as any wavelength still finds its mark among the rods and cones; a washing over of giddy happiness, all of the sudden made manifest—like the soft dolphin clicking which makes background radiation real—by an ecosystem fed by the heavy sunshine, lapping up those vibes, spilling out from the walls and onto the floors, grass, green grass, too-green grass, the putt-putt Eden which will never die and upon which sprout fungi whose life cycles are not derived from the decay of matter, but instead of inhibitions, fears, doubts, angers, hatreds, anxieties, all manner of varieties of the grossly negative which stick, plaque-like, to the brain, and all of which are obliterated—that's the only word, the proper word—by the heavy sunshine of the radiant little dense positivity star, burned and devoured in the light of weaponized joy, the kind which dissolves people into paroxysmal saline puddles of tears and teeth, gratitude etched across each grin by benevolent, indomitable force…– B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Listed under: Review

May 25, 2017, 9:28am

Jean Alexander Frater: Fold; Don't Spindle and Mutilate

What it looks like is, ok, like the hurried ancillary sculpture of an active hand, like a Monument to a Moment, the slip—in the course of creation—of fabric, the errant falling and perfect, frozen fantastic memory of a bolt in some divine designer-artist's atelier, a static haint of a kinetic flourish, the same ephemeral, cigarette-smoke beauty we find curling from a hot cherry or in the letting down, the glorious, luxurious exhale, of an up-do or cascading over the side of some steep embankment, Niagara, Victoria, Angel; it looks like the terrible, painful Monument to a Moment One Would Rather Forget, like a broken arm—the radius and ulna snapped through, the spasming, spider-sprayed-with-bleach digits dangling, the grotesque thing held together by extensor and flexor carpi radialus, flexor and extensor pollicis longus and brevis, radialii, digitorums, palmaris longus, pronator teres, the lonely exertions of the biceps brachi—but only when viewed with the negative and corporeal in mind; it looks like mis-caught pizza dough, with its pallid spine draped over the hand like an examined necklace, or a sea cucumber being garroted, and only all of these things—minus the textile—if one ignores the colors, the combination of GO Transit green and raw, creamy canvas, which gives it a Gilded Age flair even as gravity leaves it dangling in its belly, but what Green Stripes Event (so perfectly named!) does not look like, at first blush, is a painting; it's obviously painted, of course—those stripes aren't woven, didn't come from nowhere—and has those various things a painting would have, where it to be broken down anatomically—and it is the protrusion, like a compound fracture, of the painting's support, broken at the top, dangling at the bottom, which gives it both its injurious and closet-ready qualities, although the former is far more important, and keeping with the spirit of the show, than the latter—but it does not sit like a painting, compose itself as a painting should, back straight, belly tight, against the wall, a tidy lie, telling us that it exists in two dimensions… - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Jean Alexander Frater | Green Stripes Event, 2017. Acrylic on canvas and support, 78 x 40 x 14 inches. Image courtesy of THE MISSION

Listed under: Review

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

December 12, 2016, 8:58am

American Arts Writer Abroad: William Kentridge’s “Triumphs and Laments”

On a recent trip to Rome, Italy, I had the great fortune of seeing and experiencing William Kentridge’s Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome, a vanishing frieze along the banks of the Tiber river. Kentridge is a well-established South African multimedia artist best known not only for his beautiful drawings and animated shorts such as Felix in Exile (1994), but also for his keen humor and stunning ability to shed light upon the darkest of human nature, while ultimately highlighting our human capacity to reconcile, love, and laugh. - Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles (Reporting From Rome)


Detail of William Kentridge | “Triumphs and Laments: A Project for Rome” | 2016, Tevereterno, Rome | Photo by Ellen C. Caldwell.

Listed under: Noteworthy, Review

November 26, 2016, 10:41am

Rebecca Farr's “Out of Nothing” is Everything

Multimedia artist Rebecca Farr’s fourth solo show Out of Nothing welcomes viewers into a personal journey and emotional recovery as she uses monumental oil paintings and sculptural installations to explore the process and aftermath of losing her father.

This deeply intimate work is touching, moving, and beautifully real. During the weeks following a divisive election, many Americans are left lost, angry, and vulnerable, in need of soul searching and nurturing — and Farr’s exhibit offers a safe space for both. – Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor


Rebecca Farr | Out of Nothing, installation view | 2016 | Courtesy of Klowden Mann.

Listed under: Review

November 25, 2016, 10:17am

Considering Painting’s Shelf Life with Boris Osterov

Since painting began to migrate from church walls to stretched linen, a painter’s niche within the art market had been carved. Not only was canvas friendlier to 16th century Venice’s damp boulevards, it also fit snugly on the walls of those with a few florins to spare, as it still does today. While contemporary speculators of our global art market are often praised for the integral role they play in driving new ideas and experimentation, the fact remains that painting makes up nearly three quarters of art sales today. And so those looking to make a florin for themselves often find extra incentive to take up the brush and canvas. - Brad Fiore, Chicago Contributor


Boris Osterov | Untitled, 2014, Oil on Canvas, 18 x 17.5 x 4.5

Listed under: Review

August 03, 2016, 4:49pm

Buoyed by Color at Stephanie McMahon’s Solo Exhibition at T+H Gallery

Stephanie McMahon’s first solo exhibition in Boston, and the first painting show hosted by T+H Gallery this year, “Close to Me” reverberates with the saturated colors of summer, from the blazing neon of flower gardens viewed at midday to the cool shadowed tones of the woodlands after rainfall. This contrast, seen throughout the galleries, can be summed up with Earthwork, a dynamic abstraction built with sheer layers of oil paint on panel. Soft-edged shapes work in tandem with more static, geometric forms, and engagingly lush brushstrokes hover in changeable depths of field. – Shana Dumont Garr, Boston Contributor


Stephanie McMahon | Earthwork, 2016, oil on panel, 59 x 47 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Listed under: Review

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