Critics’ Picks

View of “Dana DeGiulio, Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, and Anders Ruhwald,” 2010. Foreground: Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, You Will #4, 2010. Middle ground: Anders Ruhwald, Beginning and Ending (version 4), 2010. Background: Dana DeGiulio, Amor vacui (detail), 2010.

View of “Dana DeGiulio, Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, and Anders Ruhwald,” 2010. Foreground: Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, You Will #4, 2010. Middle ground: Anders Ruhwald, Beginning and Ending (version 4), 2010. Background: Dana DeGiulio, Amor vacui (detail), 2010.

Chicago

Dana DeGiulio, Marie Torbensdatter Hermann, and Anders Ruhwald

Devening Projects
3039 W Carroll Ave
October 24–November 27, 2010

This collaborative exhibition of works by Chicago-based painter Dana DeGiulio and Danish ceramists Marie Torbensdatter Hermann and Anders Ruhwald is the latest installment in “Kabinett,” a yearlong series of shows at Devening Projects + Editions featuring local, national, and international artists. In this particular instance, the extent of the exchange among the three participating artists feels a bit underplayed, even tentative, but when things do start to heat up between them, the results are inspired and invigorating.

The artworks keep discreetly to themselves in the first room. On the walls, the elegantly angsty brushwork of DeGiulio’s white, gray, and oily black canvases finds its expressive potential muffled by comical splats and bandagelike swaths of paint. On the floor, Ruhwald’s canary yellow sculpture suggests a ridiculously outsize bird feeder or an elongated megaphone turned on its side, but the absence of holes makes the functions associated with either object impossible. Hermann’s glazed white vessels evoke oft-handled kitchen items such as cups, saltshakers, or cruets. Displayed on a custom-made earthenware shelf, these objects bear the marks of human touch on their pinched and prodded surfaces, yet they, too, have no utility.

Only in the second room do the artists truly mix it up. Hermann’s sculptures come off their shelves and expand to a larger scale than usual for this artist, taking the form of floor-bound clouds and solid lampshades. As if to free her gestural marks from their canvases, DeGiulio has adhered flexible black acrylic paint peels and bits of studio detritus directly to the walls, creating a physically dynamic, three-dimensional collage that also acts as a frame for the sculptures on the floor. Hermann’s and DeGiulio’s attempts to “stretch” the boundaries of their practices adds a new level of poignancy to Ruhwald’s sculptures, especially Beginning and Ending (Version 4), 2010, a sculpture where the methodically hand-wrought outlines of a chair echo the willful self-determination of DeGiulio’s line and Hermann’s sensuous handling of her materials.