Critics’ Picks

Carrie Gundersdorf, Aurora Borealis, 2009, found images on paper, 20 1/2 x 31".

Carrie Gundersdorf, Aurora Borealis, 2009, found images on paper, 20 1/2 x 31".


“New Icon”

Loyola University Museum of Art
820 North Michigan Avenue
June 5–August 1, 2010

As a gratifying collection of new work by a vast range of Chicago-based artists, this exhibition aims to create “a contemporary sense of semiotic flexibility as a whole while allowing for individual experiences,” according to the catalogue essay by curator Britton Bertran, former director of the city’s Gallery 40,000. While he continues to demonstrate that he has a talent for identifying exceptional art, his current show’s tenuous thesis is too vague, although pardonably so. Despite the exhibition’s wobbly thematic—best summarized in Bertran’s essay with the crack, “Show me your icon and I’ll show you mine”—the works comprising “New Icon” are worthy of careful deliberation.

Zachary Buchner’s Shroud (all works cited, 2010) is a lavish ghostlike figurine detailed with trickles of liquid gold; it humorously examines iconographic allusion and the authority of material value in contemporary object making. Smartly, Buchner’s iconic abstraction is juxtaposed with Kevin Wolff’s photorealistic canvases that depict repugnant intestinal shapes propped on a mirrored surface so that the sausagelike links spell out the word BOB. Dan Gunn’s glitter-dusted, foil-covered, and Lycra-stretched painting supports in Inside the Studio for the Development of the Technology of Enchantment also carry self-critical underpinnings. Unofficial and informal taxonomies are likewise at the core of Carrie Gundersdorf’s celestial collages, William J. O’Brien’s collection of hurried ink drawings, Pamela Fraser’s guileless color studies, and Brennan McGaffey’s tidy arrangement of bewildering social artifacts. Finally, Sze Lin Pang’s Wait, a throbbing video projection, and Diana Guerrero-Maciá’s hand-sewn wool, vinyl, and cotton paintings present a host of incongruent signs and text while enthusiastically making sport of icons, old and new.