Chicago

Robert Donley

Hokin Kaufman Gallery

Robert Donley has chosen a grand, challenging, and unwieldy theme for his work. His canvases purport to record no less than the life of the modern city, as manifested in its buildings and in its residents. In their encyclopedic patterning and patience, their sense of self-composure and slow-moving surety, Donley’s images remind us of forebears such as Bosch and Bruegel, artists who also knew the value of accretion in the development of their expansive themes.

In each of the ten paintings that made up this exhibition, Donley surrounds an urban skyline with small portraits. In some of the paintings his figures number just a few dozen, and are set into the foreground or act as a decorative border around the larger cityscape. In more recent canvases, though, the city is almost immersed within a sea of hundreds of heads, seemingly engulfed by its own progeny. This city is sometimes Donley’s

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