EXPO 2015: a few must-sees
BY FRANCK MERCURIO
The fourth annual EXPO Chicago kicked-off Thursday at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall. Billed as Chicago’s International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, the fair includes an astonishing variety of works presented by some 140 galleries. The majority of these are well-established enterprises, often representing big-name artists and catering to serious collectors with deep wallets, though this year in particular we easily found many appealing works priced affordably as well. EXPO also promotes a selection of 30 younger galleries representing less-established artists. The “EXPOSURE” galleries feature a range of compelling works that suggest the future direction of contemporary art. The following are three “must-sees."
Despite the ubiquitousness of video art in museum exhibitions, not many galleries present video. Aspect/Ratio is bucking the trend. Established by Jefferson Godard in 2012, the West Loop gallery features works by well-known and up-and-coming video artists. For EXPO, Aspect/Ratio presents Desirée Holman’s Sophont (2013), a visually rich work featuring costumed performers set against California landscapes. In the video, the Oakland-based artist explores modern-day society’s willingness to accept “fringe fantasies” as fact—in this case, “sophonts” or fictional beings defined by their greater capacity for reasoning than humans. Complimenting the main work are drawings by Holman of the characters represented in the video.
11R Eleven Rivington, New York
At first glance, the striking black and white works of Marsha Cottrell appear to be prints—but each is actually a unique piece. Represented by Eleven Rivington in New York, the Brooklyn-based artist designs her works on a computer using a series of layered images. She then runs a single sheet of paper through an electrostatic laser printer—over and over again—layering one image on top of another to create the final piece. It’s a time consuming process that incorporates both digital and manual technologies, but the results are both ephemeral and haunting. In Interior 9 (2015) the artist’s layered gradations of printer toner capture an imagined “view” from a dark interior out to a light-filled exterior.
Louis B. James, New York
Who says painting is dead? New York-based Louis B. James gallery presents a vibrant selection of works by artists Nora Griffin and Matthew Kirk. But it is Kirk’s large-scale “drawing” Absolute Calm (2011) that commands the most attention. Painting-like in its execution, the work features a complex composition of lines and symbols set against a dramatic black background. The variety of markings made by Kirk—using chalk, gouache, India ink, and pencil— allude to the Brooklyn-based artist’s upbringing on a Navajo reservation in Arizona as well as to his adult life in New York City. Do the stepped lines that stretch across the paper represent an urban skyline or southwestern mesas? The formal ambiguity allows the viewer to decide.