Deb Sokolow: Profiles in Leadership

Friday, Nov 8 – Dec 21, 2019

1709 W. Chicago Ave
2nd. Floor
Chicago, IL 60622

In Gallery One

For her 4th solo show at Western Exhibitions, Deb Sokolow will present two bodies of work: “Profiles in Leadership” — new narrative drawings that blend fact with fiction and speculate both comically and critically on the foibles of famous men in leadership roles in Gallery 1 and “Drawings without words” — Sokolow’s first ever foray into abstraction in Gallery 2. The show will open with a public reception on Friday, November 8 from 5 to 8pm and will run through December 21. Gallery hours are 11am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Sokolow’s drawings incorporate the voice of an unnamed narrator of questionable authority who recounts seemingly humorous, harmless anecdotes on a number of famous men, while also suggesting a more sinister mix of machismo, narcissism and insecurity at play. Lines between fact and fiction blur, and the tone shifts from objectivity to admiration and sarcasm. The viewer is left to decipher how much is true and to determine when, if ever, a narrator can be trusted.

Hand-drawn texts in graphite and erasure marks on the surface of each drawing function as a visual record of the narrator’s indecisive thought process in working to present each anecdote. The texts are paired with abstract shapes and diagrammatic visuals which reference the historically male-dominated movements of modern architecture, color field painting and minimalism. Many of these visuals appear to be reproduced with a printmaking process. Instead, they are hand-rendered with colored pencils and crayons and function as a conceptual compliment to the texts in that they also contain uncertainties with regard to the fabrication of content.

Sokolow’s interests in storytelling and unreliable narration take inspiration from contemporary politics and its competing narratives on events and individuals as well as the playfulness with form and humor found in postmodern literature and authors such as Jorge Borges, Thomas Pynchon, Helen Oyeyemi and Ali Smith.

Deb Sokolow is an artist and writer. She currently has work on view in “Manifesto X” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC and has been included in the 4th Athens Biennale in Greece and in other group exhibitions at The Drawing Center in New York; Museum für Gegenwartskunst Siegen in Germany; Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Solo exhibitions include the Abrons Art Center in New York; Museum of Contemporary Art and Western Exhibitions in Chicago; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City; Institute of Visual Arts in Milwaukee; and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, in which Sokolow’s 2013 MATRIX exhibition, “Some Concerns About the Candidate,” was reviewed in the New York Times. Her work has been reproduced for Creative Time’s Comics project; for Swedish art magazine, Paletten; in Vitamin D2, a survey on contemporary drawing; and in a several page spread in the current issue of BOMB Magazine. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT; Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Indiana; and the Thomas J Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY. Sokolow is a recipient of an Artadia award and residencies at Art Omi and Nordic Artists’ Centre in Norway. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2004. She is represented by Western Exhibitions and lives and works in Chicago.


Image: Deb Sokolow, Mr. Kim Jong-un Attempts to Kidnap Mr. Michael Jordan 2019. Graphite, coloured pencil, pastel, crayon, ink, and collage on paper