chicago

Paul Chidester

Public Library Cultural Center

In Paul Chidester’s 12 small egg-tempera and oil paintings, collectively entitled “Corn,” red words name little-known constellations, and black ones designate obsolete varieties of corn. Between the verbal references to the rural Midwest, one glimpses the faded concrete and brick of a crumbling city infiltrated by pale green vegetation.

The circuitous arrangement of these phrases, imitating the growth patterns of vegetation, do not actually enter the virtual space of the image but trace its shapes on the surface, gently reaffirming the picture plane and thus recalling the image’s material nature. The unadulterated nostalgia suggested by the genre of the romantic ruin, to which Chidester’s paintings refer, is filtered through the screen of text. But what kind of words are these? “Expanded Paw,” “Auspicious Feet,” “Purple Subtle Enclosure.” These are names that invoke other referents, connecting

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