Recommended Shows: Beyond Chicago EXPO

by Robin Dluzen on September 17, 2014 Reviews

Image courtesy of EXPO Chicago

Image courtesy of EXPO Chicago

CHICAGO —EXPO Chicago week is upon us. Let’s assume you’ll spend at least some small amount of time at the piers for the fair. But let’s also assume you’ll get sick of it. When that happens, check out some of the local exhibitions on our list of recommended shows. Or take the “Art After Hours” program on Friday night shuttle bus tour. It’s free and everyone likes free!

Bryan Zanisnik, "The Passenger" (Image courtesy of Aspect Ratio)

Bryan Zanisnik, “The Passenger” (Image courtesy of Aspect Ratio)

Bryan Zanisnik “The Passenger”
September 5 – October 18, 2014
Aspect Ratio
119 N Peoria St #3D

What’s on view:A two-channel video documenting a performance by the artist and his dad, giving a pseudo-guided tour of a Philadelphia waste recycling facility; a site-specific installation of vintage baseball cards from the artist’s own childhood collection; and a series of photos and embroidery works featuring imagery of and content inspired by the novelist Philip Roth.

Now that the children of the 80s and 90s have grown up, galleries are filling with sentimental revisionist histories. Fortunately, you’ll find none of that from New York-based artist Bryan Zanisnik. Through a range of media, Zanisnik addresses his childhood, as well as a shared one, with humor, absurdity and a surprising amount of objectivity.

Take Alternative Colors and BHT, a hole busted through the gallery wall reveals a grid of baseball card packs, lit dramatically from inside the drywall. According to the artist, the cards, initially collected in the hopes of cashing in on their increased value in the future, are today practically worthless—even in their original packaging. Theoretically, though, Zanisnik elevates the objects’ value by turning them into art. They’re indeed valueless in the end as, the artist explains, the cards will be recycled into his future works until these cherished childhood relics get destroyed from use and ultimately discarded.

Carol Jackson, "High Plains Drifter" (Image courtesy of Threewalls)

Carol Jackson, “High Plains Drifter” (Image courtesy of Threewalls)

Carol Jackson “High Plains Drifter”
September 5 – October 11, 2014
119 N. Peoria Street, #2C

What’s on view: Two largescale, red, biomorphic sculptures, on the walls and the floor. A wall-bound sculpture and a series of prints altered with mixed media. The materially varied works are bound formally and thematically, with the artist citing Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and American car culture as conceptual references.

Downstairs from Aspect Ratio is Threewalls, a ten-year-old 501(c) gallery and residency, with an exhibition of two- and three dimensional work by Carol Jackson, a previously under-the-radar Chicago artist receiving new attention following her inclusion in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Deputy, a paper mache sculpture installed on the wall high above viewers’ heads, features Jackson’s unique strategy of affixing landscape photos to the object’s sliced face, so the images appear as though they are the revealed insides of the work.

In another section of the gallery hangs a digital photo series of wrecked automobiles embellished with tactile, ornamental patterns of red enamel and encaustic, informing the centerpiece of the show:Youthful Beast #2. A formalized, abstracted floor-to-ceiling paper mache, Youthful Beast #2  recreates a “car accident” by mingling jagged shapes with floral and decorative components, all painted a garish, glossy red. The piece is a car crash you can’t look away from, appealing equally to our human inclinations toward beauty and tragedy.

Magalie Guerin, "Untitled (hat--ham)", (Image courtesy of Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Magalie Guerin, “Untitled (hat–ham)”, (Image courtesy of Corbett vs. Dempsey)

Magalie Guérin “re”
September 5 – October 11, 2014
Corbett vs Dempsey
1120 N. Ashland Avenue, 3rd Floor

What’s on view: Modestly-sized, abstract oil paintings of repeated nose-and-ear-like blobs. Surfaces are richly layered and brightly colored.

Montréal-born, Chicago-based artist Magalie Guérin is a “painter’s painter,” her hard-edged forms balanced by occasional loose brushwork and luminous fields of color. Here, the artist plays with a figure-ground relationship of organic shapes layered upon flat planes. Though the paintings are abstract, they are not non-objective; Guérin creates a kind of visual narrative amongst the works with her references to the human body. Untitled (hat-ears) contains the most obvious figurative imagery, introducing us to a recurring “protagonist” of sorts, as the hat and ear forms reappear throughout her works, subtly evolving from one canvas to the other. Judging by the sea of red dots on the price sheet, Guérin is not just a favorite amongst artists, but a new collector darling as well.

Roger Brown, "VSL #23: Midnight Ride of Paul Revere," 1996 (Image courtesy of Russell Bowman Art Advisory)

Roger Brown, “VSL #23: Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” 1996 (Image courtesy of Russell Bowman Art Advisory)

Roger Brown “Virtual Still Life”
September 5 – November 1, 2014
Russell Bowman Art Advisory
311 West Superior Suite 115

What’s on view: The last series of works by the late Chicago Imagist Roger Brown in which the artist paired his pattern-like landscape paintings with found objects and ceramics. Originally, there were 27 in the series, and this exhibition features the 11 that remain available for purchase.

Those familiar with Brown’s oeuvre will know of the painter’s affinity for found objects, and here, Brown’s paintings function almost like backdrops for these objects that are affixed to small shelves that jut out from the paintings’ frames. Each painting appears to respond to the formal qualities of the chosen objects. In works like VSL #11: Mugs and Mountains, the ridges of the hand-thrown mugs are echoed in the painting’s pattern of peaks and valleys. A Painting for a Sofa, A Sofa for a Painting features a banded landscape hedgerows behind a miniature, brown and white upholstered sofa –a silly but critical piece that speaks to anyone who’s ever tried to sell a painting to a buyer who’s just looking for something that fits over the couch.

RO/LU, "Truth Lies in Experience No Matter How Incomplete It May Be (man/desk/table)" (Image courtesy of Volume Gallery)

RO/LU, “Truth Lies in Experience No Matter How Incomplete It May Be (man/desk/table)” (Image courtesy of Volume Gallery)

“Future Tropes”
September 5 – November 7, 2014
Volume Gallery
845 West Washington Blvd, 3rd Floor
What’s on view:A group show of furniture by artist/designers Tanya Aguiñiga, Jonathan Muecke, Jonathan Olivares, Leon Ransmeier, RO/LU, and Anders Ruhwald.

Between 1919 and 1920, German architect Bruno Taut exchanged letters with fellow German expressionist architects about how to shape the architecture of the future. That correspondence is now the inspiration for “Future Tropes,” a show which has assigned six artists to create work that is both timeless and futuristic, resulting in some works that are typical, and some that are truly original. Tables, rugs, cabinets and group seating are all reexamined; many of the pieces, like Leon Ransmeier’s stainless steel, sculptural “gymnasium,” Action Object, or Jonathan Muecke’s multi-purpose, space-saving Blue Cabinet are minimal and sleek and in this way match our idea of a “futuristic” aesthetic might look like. Tanya Aguiñiga’s contributions stand out in their warmth and internalized approach; in Tierra, a series of tubes filled with soil from various locations of personal importance are woven loosely into a rug that is both elegant and luxurious in appearance, as well as modest and base in its materials. Inspired by Aguiñiga’s experiences with her infant child, Support is a soft, floor-bound dining room table made of movable denim building-blocks, filled with rice and beans. Changeable, practical (and somewhat edible), the piece is both universally functional and intensely personal.


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