Critics’ Picks

Dana DeGiulio, Prop, 2009, oil on canvas, 57 x 47".

Dana DeGiulio, Prop, 2009, oil on canvas, 57 x 47".

Chicago

Dana DeGiulio

Carrie Secrist Gallery
1637 W Chicago Ave
March 27–April 25, 2009

The agile lines that judiciously bend, curl, snake, and meander through Dana DeGiulio’s creamy oil grounds tease the viewer into thinking that her paintings are an elegant breed of gestural abstraction. But get your nose in them and crane your neck to examine the edges of her canvases to observe DeGiulio’s determined messy scuffle with all the conundrums abstraction affords. The elegance of her easeful contours is pugnaciously negotiated with uncomfortable blots of impasto paint and the persistent act of painting out, masking, obscuring, and smothering previous gestures.

DeGiulio’s struggle to evolve dense and weighty theaters on which lines and delineations emerge is a volatile one that is evidenced in the topography of her paintings’ surfaces and on each of the four sides of each canvas. Here stains, drips, and high-contrast colors lay bare and unedited. Of the twelve paintings in her first solo exhibition at this gallery, only two works stray from DeGiulio’s preferred light gray grounds. Hanging in the gallery’s window is Prop, 2009, a large red painting with faint linear vocabulary distributed equitably into its rufous core, and Untitled, 2009, a dark green-gray monochromatic work tucked around a corner from the main exhibition space. Untitled, 2008, with its vertical arrangement of lines, is perhaps the least fretful inclusion in the show. Unlike the linear elements that evoke bodily fragments in many of her other paintings, the lines here offer a confident figural composition.