Monday, October 08, 2018

Art Expo 2018

Naudline Pierre

I wasn't especially searching for depictions of people-of-color in my tour through Art  Expo this year ------  but quite a few caught my eye.

Possibly they exemplify a transformative moment in American life finding its own painters - rather than the other way around.

What could be more colorful than the figures shown above?  It feels like some kind of mystic vision  of angels and demons.

Rael Jero Salley

This piece is much more down to earth.

Devan Shimoyama

Devan Shimoyama

But now we're back to a world that is strange and wonderful.

Is Adam the luminous snake handler shown above ?

 Marcus Jensen

Back to dumpy old reality again.

The racial identity of this figure is about as subtle as  could be. 

The artist calls himself an Urban  Expressionist.

Barbara Earl Thomas

Racial identity is also ambivalent in this piece.  The three figures are entirely white, though their features may not be..

The artist is an African Amercan from the Northwest who identifies Jacob Lawrence as a primary influence on her work.

Ajarb Bernard Ategwa 

The energy of urban Africa - specifically Douala,  Cameroon.

Aleah Chapin

On the other hand, one might note that 100% of the figures brought to Art Expo by Forum Gallery are white.

This year, Forum focused on portraits of artists - accompanied by informative signage.

It's the kind of show that really should travel around to small museums.

The work of this artist also came to Chicago
for the Visions of Venus exhibit at the Zhao B Art Center last April.

Bo Bartlett

I don't know whether these two artists are really lovers, but the husband of one certainly enjoyed depicting them as such.  Is there a menage-a-trois?

Bartlett's figurative painting used to appear regularly at the annual Chicago art fairs -- I'm glad he's back this year.

Elaine De Kooning

The subject matter and personal context of this painting
is much more compelling that the painting itself.

Fairfield Porter


Gregory Gillespie

Jules Kirschenbaum

Kim Piotrowski

I really liked Piotrowski's abstract painting as seen earlier this year.  The addition of a sketchy portrait  seems to diminish rather than magnify the total effect.

Raphael Soyer

That's it for Forum Gallery.  They've been the main presenter of figurative painting at Art  Expo ever since Arcadia and Marlborough stopped coming  to Chicago.


Dongwook Suh

Sleepers are convenient models for those who likes to practice figure sketching.

This Korean painter has turned sleepers into rather dramatic characters - combining relaxation and anxiety.

Dongwook Suh

Jansson Stegner

Like American painters in the 1930's, this artist is working with a dynamic interaction of volumes that characterizes the spirit of the people portrayed.

If there is supposed to be some irony in the above images, I don't feel it.

Elsewhere, however, his figures become distorted, cartoonish,  and comic.

Robert Donley

This depiction of LBJ pretty much captures how a draft age young man might have seen the Commander in Chief back in 1966.  "Hey, Hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today ?"

Joseph Cornell, "The Crack"

Is this really the same artist who made all those boxes of found objects?

This collage is magical.

Karl  Wirsum

This imaginative piece remains eye-catching and bizarre fifty years after the young Hairy Who's shot to the top of  the Chicago artworld.

Picasso, 1964

This year's Picasso is a rather forgettable piece dashed off by the 83 year old artist
who portrays himself as an old fool.

Ridley Howard

Ridley Howard

A bit staid and well mannered -- but still as fresh and alluring as a tropical breeze.

Walt Kuhn

A sordid innocence -- that contrasts nicely with the asexual female nude below, done at least 80 years later:

Julie Hefferman

George Shaw, "Love and Death on a Sunny Day"

These are the only cityscapes that I could find at Expo.  Sadly, the Paul Thiebaud Gallery did not participate this year.

As  the title might suggest, it's more of a narrative than a view of a city.

George Shaw

Is that a cock and balls sketched onto those weathered white doors to nowhere?

Seems to express that kind of pathetic male frustration that has been driving national politics lately - in the UK as well as USA.

John Santoro

Tthis is the closest thing to a contemporary landscape that I found this year.
Santoro is one of my favorite Chicago painters.

(and I couldn't find any still-life painting at all --
which is a shame, since Expo used to have quite a few
great examples - especially by Claudio Bravo)

Johnny Abrahams

Joseph Hart

Both of the above abstract monochrome painters were shown by Romer Young, a San Francisco gallery.

Very exciting - as well as sedate -- they maximize energy as they push against the parameters they've set.

This was one of my favorite rooms in the show.

Julian Schnabel, 2015

What a wanton, luxurious, eruption

As William Blake put it:

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.

Willem De Kooning (detail)

And here is some sensual excess from an earlier generation of New York painters.

Julius Tobias

This arresting wall sized piece was done in 1960 --- though it could have been made yesterday as well.

Marsden Hartley, 1922

This kind of aggressive conglomeration, resembling a still life, also has its contemporary proponents - like Magalie Guerin who has appeared at Art Expo in years past.

John Little, 1946

The artist was born 30 years after Hartley and 66 years before Guerin,   while the above painting has much in common with both.

Al Held, 1960

Yet another New York abstract painter who had quite a long and varied career - though this is the first time I've seen his work.  (will have to get off at the 53rd St. station on the Lexington Avenue subway the next time I ride it)

Charles Green Shaw,  1960

Done when he was nearly 70, this piece seems to share the angst of the generation of  American abstract painters who were forty years younger than him.

Egon Adler, 1960

Feels like a standing figure to me -- more resilient than heroic.

The artist, then aged 68, was a Holocaust survivor.

Egon Adler

Esphyr Slobodkina

This Russian immigrant is best known for her children's books.

Her above variations on Suprematism is rather light hearted and humorous.

Federico Herrero Parlante (b. 1978)

This work is hard edge, but not angular and aggressive.
It feels gentle and  tropical. The artist is Costa Rican.

Nick Dawes

Another mellow, humorous  abstract design. This one seems to suggest people waiting for a bus. (the black one in the center is the most impatient).  The artist is British.

Harold Haydon

A nice Chicago cityscape

Harold Haydon

Possibly professor Haydon was thinking about Matisse that day.

Martin Creed

An unusually visual creation from an artist who mostly does conceptual work.

Norman Kantner, 1959

What an odd piece - with a big,  gaping hole in the enter.

The colors are quite patriotic.

Robert Motherwell, 1975

Dada meets Tao.

Tom Laduke

A large, totally wacky confabulation that seems to owe much to the imagery of video games.


Not surprisingly --- this is the studio of the artist.

by contrast -- this is the studio of Bo Bartlett

Tomory Dodge, "Gorgon"

This work feels so Caribbean.
I would love to have this pattern on a shirt.

It presents a life of joy, wonder, and activity.

Tomory Dodge, "Mean Uncle"

William Anastasi

Isn't this how nerve cells look under magnification?

It's seems to  represent the daily buzz of a healthy brain.

Michael Mueller

There wasn't much figure sculpture at Expo this year.  This piece, with the puzzling title, seems to be a copy or a cast of something made in earlier centuries.  Apparently one of the original's arms broke at the shoulder, revealing an inner wire  

I doubt that the conceptual artist who made these copies is Christian - but probably his ancestors were. The piece feels Germanic -- maybe from Austria. Presumably it was cast in impermanent materials so that it would decay just as the Christian faith has.

It still, however, has a stronger visual inner life than any other sculpture at  Expo.

Nicolas Africano

A new look for Africano's classical scupture this year -- the nudes have been clothed and are now wearing sun hats.

Nicolas Africano

Alexander Tallen

Funny and pretty -- my favorite tchotchke among the others this artist has made


Mary Qian's  picks:

Charles Green Shaw

 John Santoro

I've written about this artist here...

Mary has also selected several depictions of African Americans

Bisa Butler

 Kehinde Wiley

I've written about this artist here

 Jaume Plensa

I've written about this artist here

Elaine De Kooning

NEW CITY at the fair

Alan Pocaro tried to characterize the entire art fair. Not surprisingly, he failed.

The "post-painterly" Alan Dawes was the only artist that both of us noticed.

Two other New City writers, Kelly Cardoza and Luke Fidler, listed their picks here --- none which I can even remember seeing.

Stephen Eisenman did some hand wringing over the cost of the work being shown. He calculated that the average price was $50,000 --- so only incomes in the top 1% could afford to buy instead of just look. If he really wanted to write about affordable art, however, he could have gone to TOAF (The Other Art Fair) running concurrently at Mana Contemporary.  By the way -- I noticed several delightful paintings at Expo that were selling for around $5000


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