Chicago

John Balsley

Nancy Lurie Gallery

John Balsley’s 1960s motorcycle sculptures reeked of stereotyped macho values: phallic speed machines complete with ruptured cyclers, gravel path and skid marks. His slightly later dark, bombardier-type hanging assemblages were less blatant—the way the parts were put together left it up to one’s imagination to invoke an antiwar response. But did Balsley really intend to glorify brute power, or harbor a lingering horror/fascination for speed, or want to confront a viewer with the imbecility of force? I would imagine Balsley never really resolved these questions himself.

What a surprise, then, to see so many of his ’70s projects reminiscent of the recent craftlike diaristic art by women. His very engaging “Diving Women” series, 1977, consists of small-scale paintings with pastel colored surfaces, decorative Art Deco stylistic influence, an immediacy of paint put on and scratched off the

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