James Yood

  • 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.


  • William J. O’Brien

    A lot of art materials are pretty icky, and it hardly requires a dedicated Freudian to note that, in their raw form, clay, paint, and glue are not without an excremental quality. The physical nature of artistic media, the mess of an artist’s studio, and the feel of handling materials not fully transformed into something else are at the heart of William J. O’Brien’s recent sculpture. O’Brien, like Robert Rauschenberg or, more recently, Nancy Rubins, Jessica Stockholder, and Jason Rhoades, has a light touch, making assemblages that seem at once tenuous and inevitable. O’Brien’s aesthetic is one

  • John Fraser

    Up, down, left, right—the seeming inexhaustibility of the possible formal (and even psychological and emotive) variations in the geometric structure of the grid is what maintains its curious hold on our consciousness. John Fraser functions as a kind of grid antiquarian, embellishing nascent grids discovered in found objects, elevating the salvaging of spent cultural artifacts above mere nostalgia by virtue of the undimmed pertinence of the geometric play embedded in them.

    In most of his recent work Fraser uses old books as his primary source material. It is solely the physical structure of these

  • Jana Gunstheimer

    What if several elite and prestigious landmark homes and apartment complexes around your city metamorphosed, suddenly and inexplicably, into blue-collar, working-class residences? Such was the premise of “Status L Phenomenon,” Jana Gunstheimer’s first museum exhibition in the US. Gunstheimer envisions what would happen if a pair of century-old Chicago mansions and the Miesian Lake Point Tower on Navy Pier were to experience this transubstantiation, and she documents aspects of the displacement—physical and psychological—of their residents in a series of trompe l’oeil watercolors, two mixed-media

  • Andrew Lord

    One window onto the awful weight of history is the similarly awful weight of art history. Andrew Lord’s two recent series of plaster and beeswax sculptures are both elegant and elegiac in this respect, assertions of self achieved via an immersion in selected obscurities of our shared cultural traditions and an attendant insistence on the palpability of his own body.

    Culture first—Lord’s ongoing series “Second Avenue” (all works 2007), named in part for a poem by Frank O’Hara, is a mannered journey through the ancient vase shapes that have interested the artist for some time. Completely nonfunctional,