Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

Chicago

Avery Preesman

The Renaissance Society
5811 South Ellis Avenue Cobb Hall, 4th floor
September 17–October 29

Deploying a reductive technique similar in intent, if not in result, to that of Piet Mondrian, Dutch artist Avery Preesman’s paintings and reconfigured architectural motifs make for solemn but rewarding viewing. Spanning the center of the gallery is Staketsel Floor Sculpture, 2006, a horizontal floor piece constructed of fir timbers and cement that suggests both a tweaked Minimalist grid and an exterior wall of a chalet laid on its side. Several grayscale paintings on view likewise seem to embed dislocated architecture; from within Echo II, 2006, an abstract diptych painted in layers of oil and wax, there emerges the hazy roofline of a house. Flanking the central floor sculpture is Choir, 2006, a monumental triptych composed of two similar paintings interconnected by a branching, wall-mounted latticework made of cement. The concrete’s organic weave resembles blown-up clusters of cobweb while also reiterating the structure of Light for the Blind, 1995/2006, a low-hanging, circular, concrete chandelier adorned with lit candles. While most of the works on view slyly evoke and distort architecture through the lens of abstraction, some do so literally: Corral House Westpunt, 2000–2001, comprises twenty-four photographs of a house the artist’s father built in his native Curaçao, each covered with thick, gestural skeins of gray printers’ ink. It is within these more direct works that one finds the means to decode Preesman’s subjective, materially sophisticated reordering of the built environment.