Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jim Hajicek at Century Guild Gallery

I was visiting Century Guild Gallery (2136 W. North) to see a show that wasn't there, when, much to my surprise, I found a wall covered by the paintings of Jim Hajicek.

 Century Guild is devoted to the aesthetic of the  Viennese Secession and the modern decorative arts of that time and place.

But it also shows contemporary Chicago figure painters who are somewhat related.

I didn't really see much connection with Jim's work until I noticed the severed head held by the above reclining nude.

 There's nothing weird or creepy about this babe

But this sultry young lady seems to have been busy recently with her pipe wrench - possibly on the cranium of a sexually abusive employer.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gold Medal Show - 2013

Ali Hasmut

Here's my top four picks for the 2013 Gold Medal Show
(though, of course, everybody gets to vote)

Ali Hasmut really blew me away with this one -- entitled "Modesty", it flies in the face of an institution that provides 50 hours/week of the exact reverse. It also has gravitas - a quality abhorred by  Monet and Co. and his many contemporary followers at the P&C.

And I'm happy to say that it's this year Gold Medal winner.

Andrew Conklin

It's so good to see Andy's work back on our walls.

He disappeared while he was getting his MFA -- which didn't necessarily make him a better painter, but did encourage him to quote the world of popular culture and modern communications.

No one paints close-up as well as Andy.

Misha Livshulz

Misha showed this piece in his show earlier this year
and  this shrug  still commands attention
as an appropriate reaction to life
in the amoral but generally peaceful world of Capitalism.

Stuart Fullerton

There always seems to be a story behind Stuart's paintings,
and this one, mysteriously entitled "Agape"
would serve well as the cover
for  pulp fiction from the 1940's.

And its passages are very sharply executed.

 Adam Nowak (detail)

 Debra Balchen

Charlotte Arnold

 Christie Body

 Clayton Beck

Dave Martin

David Cushing

 Errol Jacobson

By the way, this piece is titled "West on Armitage"
thank, in part, to my enthusiasm for that title.
35 years ago, I bicycled through that dark, damp cave
every day on the way to work.

Kimberly Beck

 Nancie King Mertz


Paul Bond

Robert Tati

Robin Power

William Schneider

 Val Yachik

 Michael Van Zeyl



And now here's some pictures from the opening,
as taken by Del Hall:

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Sketchbook of Qian Pingji

Qian Pingji's paintings are one thing
but his ink drawings are something else,
and thanks to Misha Livshulz,
I discovered the magic
of the sketchbook
which accompanied the exhibition of paintings.

The sketchbook is small
(about 8-inches high)
and  the drawings are even smaller
when he fits two, or more!,
drawings on each page

He's quite the  miniaturist,
where even the tiniest of marks
seem to be inflected.

(and you get feeling that his love of discrete details descends beneath the visual threshold
where only a magnifying glass could discern them)

None of the pages are titled
(at least in English)
but this one appears to be
a cubist view of the Shanghai skyline

I'm guessing that  many of the views are imaginary,
and like some German painters from the 16th C,
he likes to draw every rock in a wall.

My errant thumb
gives some idea of the scale.

Though he's self taught,
he can't seem to help
echoing the elements
of traditional Chinese brush painting

There are three tiny horses in the foreground,
that he has imagined seen from above
and walking on the same plane

I do wish he would scale up
some these designs
and just let them stay black and white