Critics’ Picks

View of “Saturnine,” 2019.

View of “Saturnine,” 2019.



Chicago Manual Style
1927 W. Superior Street
April 19–July 26, 2019

To access Chicago Manual Style, visitors must open a tall gate, walk down a path toward the back of a residential house, and enter a nondescript two-car garage. This lead-up, and the domestic scale of the gallery, perfectly frames the readymade in the center of the room—Antoine Donzeaud’s Pink Monochrome, 2019, a double bed with rosy sheets.

As the centerpiece of the group show “Saturnine,” this work invites visitors to lie down to observe the other works, which draw on the symbology of Albrecht Dürer’s Melencolia I, 1514, an engraving of a brooding, winged figure surrounded by devices and geometric forms. Theodora Allen’s painting Calendar, No.3, 2019, features an hourglass about to run out of time, perhaps connecting to the nearby experimental film by Wim van der Linden, Tulips—one of his “Sad Movies” from the late 1960s—in which a single petal falls from a vase of cascading, open tulips. Assaf Evron’s sculpture Untitled (Athens and Oraibi), 2019, consisting of a lone stair stringer, echoes the ladder in Dürer’s print. A sense of emptiness emerges: The stairs are just an outline, an idea (it takes two stringers to build a flight of stairs); time is slipping away; and the bed, without a blanket, offers little comfort.

The most resonant works hang above the bed, face down, confronting the reclined visitor: Four large paintings from Donzeaud’s “Suspended Stories” series, 2019, incorporate ink-jet prints of Instagram screenshots; their installation replicates the contemporary experience of scrolling through social-media feeds before falling asleep. Together, these works suggest that we, like Dürer’s personification of melancholy, are surrounded by tools and yet rendered motionless by some unspeakable force.