“In the thin hallway gallery adjacent to the bulk of the show, prints made with the obsolete hectographic method—the kind used by the anti-colonial activists—use agar-agar, a common Asian dessert ingredient, to display English, Vietnamese and French iterations of the pro-immigration rallying cry “We are here because you were there.” The artist’s royal purple agitprop hangs over the observer’s heads like Damocles’ sword, a powerful reminder that history is written in blood and spoken through the gnashing of teeth. One leaves the show with eyes open, but blurred by now-knowing tears.”
“The figures populating Bruce’s past are abstractions; ciphers for himself, the viewer, whomever. They exist as jaundiced faces—like summer camp soap carvings left in the sun—and flat, creamy planes or, most often, as simple, vibrant lines, exsanguinated silhouettes, emanating in jejune tones from the forest or the side of the frame, squiggling like tube worms from between shoulder blades, practically detached as a soft gray tracing, visage-cum-skyline.”
In the hall outside the main space, an array of paint cans—actually wood, and liable to tip right over if one bumps them—sit on nightstands, surreal vignettes within and around them (a Hockney scene post-summer, leaves and furniture in a tiny empty pool in a drawer; a potato which wanders the wall like the world’s starchiest spider) suggesting the kind of sleep-deprivation-derived trompe l’oeil one gets in a dawn-lit bedroom after a prolonged coke binge, something just beyond the playfulness of his material alchemy and with the slightest soupçon of strange menace, the uncanny power of trompe l’esprit.
“In the second room one finds the fruits of these captured sparks, from sandcastle-makers begotten by Parsons’ great grandfather, beautiful wooden blades with teeth like synthesizer waves and mantis raptorial forelegs, to a golden-ratio finder which teases out the god’s math in anything—a divination device!—to a wooden puzzle of dopamine, which causes the very chemical itself to release via its manipulation.”
“The sculptures’ apparent fluency is belied by their time-consuming construction; these are chimerical pieces composed of pattern and repetition, made from a product that—while it carries connotations of excitement and escape, the survivalist and scuba diver, the parachutist and hiker—is indeed the workhorse of these pursuits, its primary purpose to bind and hold. The tension between paracord’s wont and Morical’s empyrean execution provides the invisible arrestment.”
“Billowing formations, like a frozen boil of freshly wept lava, bubble up between sharp rocks and long, smooth, hanging stalactites and wall formations. With a hot electric wire cutter, she garroted the blocks and brought them to life with longitudinal slices across the surfaces and sprinting down the sides of the cavern a wonder of manipulation, mimetic erosion, achieving in minutes what would take nature millennia. It is breathtakingly beautiful, chimerical, beyond…until the distinct marrow-like markings reveal that one is ensconced primarily in, of all things, styrofoam.”
“Shards” is strongest when seen as a rumination on the Great Beast of the medical-industrial complex, rather than the action of care. Gentle color play is juxtaposed with the downright primeval patterns the collages take, an atavistic wardrobe which alludes to the rapidly dying nature of the medium. As new forms of medical imaging—and, more importantly, as new, digital ways to collect, collate and quickly share the data contained in said images—arise, tapes such as these will eventually cede to fully digitized portraits of us. The shining staples are not surgical, they are the staples which bind, coagulate and eventually clot our bureaucratic medical system; the delicate monsters they hold together are the skeletons in the filing and medicine cabinets.”
“Park attempts to channel nature in all of its ungainly, uncanny beauty, and while all of the pieces are abstractions, they inspire telescopic views of our physical and metaphysical world; an intricate collage of woven paper, plied with paint and singed with graphite, resembles waves of water and skeletal muscle both, as well as the vast array of waveforms which subsume us—light, radiation, sound, thought—yet remain hidden.”
So the Top 5 of everything issue is out, and I have a little contribution to the arts section: the best places to go in Chicago to breathe in some culture after inhaling a blunt.
“Fifteen pairs of shoes—their exteriors a gleaming bronze, their guts redacted, black giraffe tongues and the faintest maker’s marks like lingering scars on their insides—line the wall atop white shelves, each with a silver dog-tag bearing the name of the shoe’s owner, an indelibly sexy display, a message couched in and enchanted by the visual merchandizer’s art. Although obliquely uniform in their brilliant armor, they represent a panoply of styles—from muscular sneakers with toe caps like cuirasses to chic heels, reptilian loafers to porous trainers—and come from an array of owners.”