James Yood

  • Ewan Gibbs

    The tautly focused pursuit of infinitesimal difference within the incredibly tiny is an intriguing pictorial obsession, and Ewan Gibbs has a kind of atom vision. His standard procedure is to take blackand-white photographs and translate them onto paper into a grid of multiple thousands of meticulously drawn cells, each precisely the same minute size, many hatched with a small mark, parallel row after parallel row, to create a teeming, handmade benday dot matrix. From cell to cell, the minuscule differences in the pressure of his pencil give each dot its near-microscopic uniqueness, and through

  • Angel Otero

    With the ebullience of youth—he’s not yet thirty—Puerto Rican–born, Brooklyn-based Angel Otero fills old bottles with new wine, bringing innovative and dramatic formal strategies to bear on conventional formats and subjects. Although his compositions often resemble traditional oil paintings, Otero rarely touches the surface of a canvas with a brush carrying paint. Instead, he crafts many of his works from “oil skins”—paint that has been poured on glass or Plexiglas, left to dry, and then peeled off in sheets. Sometimes Otero crumples the skins and uses them as building blocks in representational

  • John Delk

    Like a sly human computer, Brooklyn-based artist John Delk amasses vast quantities of data, which he processes and shuffles, changing up the platform to reconsider the content. A typical project is Pressed (all works cited, 2009), in which he took issues of the Wall Street Journal published during the spring of 2008, extracted the 1,358 hedcuts that appeared during that period (the paper’s iconic small-scale portraits), and printed them on an extremely long scroll, in chronological order and to scale. Universally recognized faces often make multiple appearances and share this stage with ephemeral

  • Aspen Mays

    Escape, the sheer exhilaration of chucking it all and getting far, far away, seems much on the mind of Aspen Mays. While this Chicago-based artist never indicates just what she might so assiduously be fleeing, the urge to relocate, physically or psychologically, is suggested in her recent work, and this show offered a witty repertoire of options for getting the hell out of Dodge.

    An allusion to space travel surfaces in The Future of the Future (Spaceman), 2009, a photograph of a fictive astronaut made of aluminum foil standing in an aluminum foil–gilded room. Fusing high fantasy and low

  • Dennis Balk

    That the title of this exhibition, “Dennis Balk: Early Work 1890–2090,” turned out to seem plausible was only the first of its many twists. Sixty photographs, sculptures, drawings on tablecloths and napkins, videos, silk screens, found objects, installations, collages, and pieces of mail art surveyed an artist so omnivorous, so much a living kunstkammer, that anything felt possible.

    The credo uniting Balk’s disparate output appeared on a piece of laminated paper embedded within Photo Magnetic Receiver, installation component, 2009, a rambling, collagelike installation made from found and fabricated

  • Matthew Rich

    Matthew Rich makes art in patchwork fashion. A pictorial quilter, he stitches—tapes, actually—imprecise geometric forms together, creating compositions that never hide the means of their production. He begins by painting individual sheets of paper with shades of latex paint, leaving behind visible brushwork and just barely perceptible shifts in hue. These colorful sheets are then cut into shapes, which he subsequently tapes together to form irregularly shaped abstractions. While referring at once to Color Field and pattern painting, the works never strike an equipoise between part and whole:

  • Rachel Mason

    In 2004, Rachel Mason began to make groupings of small porcelain figures for every year of her life. Each set includes, in addition to a self-portrait, busts portraying global political and military leaders who were chief actors in some notable geopolitical aggression or armed conflict during that grouping’s respective year. Titled The Ambassadors, the work is currently complete through 2008 (the artist’s thirtieth year), and includes 117 figures ranging from two and a half to four inches in height. At Andrew Rafacz the figures appeared on a long shelf that snaked around the gallery, and ran in

  • Jim Lutes

    Conversations about Jim Lutes regularly devolve into assessments of his “Chicago-ness,” or the degree to which the artist from Washington State who relocated to Chicago for his MFA and remained here has absorbed deep-seated local traditions into his art. Is Lutes heir to the roughneck figural surrealism dating back to Chicago artists such as Ivan Albright, Seymour Rosofsky, and Ed Paschke? Is his predilection for exploring blue-collar themes with an assertive “up yours” cynicism and dark humor an act of seamless continuity, the artist a working-class Chicago craftsman with a paintbrush? This

  • Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle

    Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle has probably passed enough professional milestones—participation in Documenta (in 2007), the Whitney Biennial (in 2000), and various other exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world; receipt of a MacArthur “genius” grant—to indulge himself in a one-liner. Dirty Bomb, 2008, is a full-scale replica of Fat Man, the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in August 1945, immaculately translated by the artist into white fiberglass and aluminum. Suspended from the ceiling, the bulbous, dirigible-shaped colossus has mud slathering its otherwise pristine snout, much of it dripping

  • Ian Pedigo

    The old dictum that certain sculptors prefer to work with, rather than on, materials rings true in the case of Ian Pedigo. His efforts fall somewhere between found-object assemblage and three-dimensional collage; he takes the more or less utilitarian stuff of the world—the works in this exhibition, for example, incorporate lampshades, denim, foam insulation board, carpeting, plastic sheets, Homasote, magazine clippings, concrete, fabric, and plastic cups—and combines it so as to coax out poetic visual subtleties. Showing a predilection for planar arrangement, Pedigo builds what look like drawings

  • Jason Meadows

    Jason Meadows now lives in Los Angeles, but he’s originally from Indianapolis and attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. As this exhibition everywhere suggests, at some point he got inculcated with the core traditions of Chicago art, particularly its obsessive blue-collar insouciance—its affection for scrupulous but low-tech craftsmanship and its earnest and unapologetic sympathy with proletarian and vernacular culture. Take, for example, Hamburger Tower (all works 2008). It’s a pretty straightforward painting of a hamburger—if hamburgers were six feet tall and had about forty

  • Wallace Whitney

    Wallace Whitney is alive to the curious allure of gestural abstraction, to the drama and theatricality made possible by painting with a wide and overloaded brush in thick three- or four-foot strokes that can seem impetuous, risky, sudden, bold, unconsciously derived, and—when they work—pictorially inevitable. That model has persisted for some sixty years, the sense of a painting as an intense sequence of real-time decisions—the ultimate fate of the canvas always in doubt, the painter someone functioning under great tension, who, like a jazz musician, must trust that his familiarity with his

  • Ciaran Murphy

    All twelve paintings Ciaran Murphy showed in his recent solo at Kavi Gupta allude to nature. This was an exhibition of leering monkeys, blasted tree trunks, moonlit hills, hunting hyenas, palm trees, and wafting clouds, through which the artist, in his hesitant and proximate brushwork, offered a wary but wistful disengagement from the natural world. Nature appears to be something that Murphy largely experiences secondhand—there are not a lot of monkeys, hyenas, or palm trees in Dublin, where he lives—and his work seems to acknowledge an inchoate relationship to it, a kind of fissure that can

  • Li Lin Lee

    Li Lin Lee’s recent paintings are certainly formulaic—each of the sixty-eight paintings shown here is made of oil, wax, and alkyd on plaster-coated burlap mounted onto canvas; each is sixteen by twelve inches and is presented edge-to-edge in a horizontal group of four, creating seventeen works in all; and each is structured around some overt geometric shape or hard-edged pattern that Lee paints onto a richly scumbled and muted monochromatic field. They are like glyphs or pictographs, integers in some personal language impossible to decode fully. Lee’s work invites visual and formal delectation

  • Michael Piazza

    Michael Piazza’s death in 2006 robbed Chicago of one of its most persistent cultural and social activists, an artist and teacher who believed that creativity could be a corrective and redemptive force with the potential to ameliorate the conditions of the disenfranchised and the dispossessed, naming and shaming and unmasking those who hold the reins of power (art-world power included). In Piazza’s life the personal and the political were ever fused, and his ongoing work with, for example, the inmates of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center of Cook County was rooted in his disgust that such

  • Marcelino Stuhmer

    John Frankenheimer’s 1962 thriller The Manchurian Candidate depicts the brainwashing of captured American soldiers during the Korean War, with one soldier programmed to become an assassin. It’s an eerie tale of enemies without and within that hinges on the insecure integrity of self. The validity of the story was enhanced when, a year after the film’s release, a former GI who had lived behind the Iron Curtain was accused of assassinating President Kennedy. A pivotal scene in the film depicts the group of soldiers seated at what they are brainwashed into believing is a garden party, in America,

  • Kateřina Šedá

    After thirty-three years spent supervising inventory in a state-run home-supplies store in Brno, Czech Republic, Jana Šedá (1930–2007) retired and began to drift into a diminished old age. Widowed and living with her son and his family, she withdrew into asocial immobility, oversleeping, rarely speaking, and spending most of her waking hours watching TV. Her granddaughter, Czech artist Kateřina Šedá, began interviewing Jana regularly about her past and eventually cajoled her into making drawings of the hundreds of items she used to keep on the shelves of the store.

    More than five hundred of the

  • Siebren Versteeg

    The Internet’s ceaseless flow of information, the parallel universes that it births and destroys, the cacophony of perpetual interactivity it encourages, all create torrents of new, largely unregulated visual data. Siebren Versteeg designs programs and display strategies to tap into these streams, siphoning off bits here and there, rearticulating their systems of presentation, and ultimately jamming their promise of stability and ubiquity.

    For Untitled Film #4 (all works 2007), Versteeg wrote a program that dips into flickr.com in real time and projects an unending and never repeating sequence

  • David Ingenthron

    David Ingenthron’s recent work might be thought of as slacker neo-surrealism, consisting as it does of meandering excursions into a strange but gentle fantasy universe where much is evoked but—purposefully, of course—little is resolved. Ingenthron drifts across mediums, styles, and formats, finally suggesting that integrity can exist within ambivalence, and that honest indecision is the best policy. The drawings, sculptures, and paintings in his recent exhibition evoke a stream of consciousness—albeit a stream that branches off into odd pools, forgets it’s a stream, or suddenly flows backward.

  • Ben Stone

    To make a complex monumental sculpture today from a small 1960s drawing by a MAD magazine cartoonist exemplifies a kind of engaged—and endearing—high/low apotheosis of the stupid. Ben Stone’s Foneboner (all works 2007) is just that, an overblown homage so earnest and respectful to its source that it functions like a giant Baroque altar, secure in the unquestioned authority of its iconography. A ten-foot-tall multifigure ensemble, it depicts Fester Bestertester and his giddy and goofy family, as originally visualized by the late Don Martin for MAD and its paperback publications.

    Martin