Julia DelNagro Oehmke, "Back View" oil, 24"x18"
This past weekend, I installed my final exhibition at Gallery 180 of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. The exhibition consists of work that has been shown and collected by the school, over the past decade. Fifteen pieces, make up the exhibition that tends to focus more on thought-provoking perception than literal subject. This is evident even within the figurative imagery included in the exhibition.
There are six pieces in the exhibition that use the figure as subject—some more obviously than others—but each conveys a message beyond the obvious.
Shown above, “Back View” by Julia DelNagro Oehmke, presents a beautifully painted semi-nude figure, abstracted through style and composition. The form is revealed through harsh lighting with deep shadows exaggerating a restricted pose that conceals the extremities. The tightly confined torso mimics the tension found in the subtle ripple of flesh in the lower back, the draped fabric grasping at the hips, and the tightly pulled hair. The image defines restriction and confinement… It’s not simply a painting of a beautiful woman.
Two photographs by Maggie Meiners are included in the exhibition. The figurative piece of the two—“Joe”—was acquired during the national juried exhibition titled “Photo 11”. The image presents the portrait of a shy—and heavily jeweled, bearded man—exposing only a collection of rings and a quiet smile. The repetition of the subject’s fingers, comprise a complex pattern of horizontal lines, interrupted by an occasional trinket of metal, a highlight on skin or an unusually bright fingernail. The photograph—a portrait—is something more than just a portrait. It’s a composition defined by line, form, contrast, and repetition.
Maggie Meiners, "Joe", Silver Gelatine Print
“Family Circles”, an oil painting by Janet Doroba, features flat roughly modulated shapes of color to define the human form. The blurred, faceless figures—mostly turned away from the viewer—create an image reminiscent of a distant memory or dream. The vague depictions offer an opportunity for the viewer to explore personal relationships as well as the relationships of color combinations. The complementary color palette utilizes orange and blue to intensify the perceived color of each… perhaps referencing the intensity of family relationships.
Janet Doroba, "Family Circles" oil, 28"x22"
“From the Top Looking Down” by painter/sculptor/conceptual artist, Paula Kloczkowski Luberda is one of the larger pieces in the exhibition. The 48”-square, mixed media on wood image defines success …or perhaps failure. As in corporate America today, humanity is minimized. Each figure stands—or peeks over—the edge to evaluate their own success, unaware of the figures above and behind. The viewer seems to have the ultimate view.
Paula Kloczkowski Luberda, "From the Top Looking Down" mixed media on wood, 48"x48"
Michael Jankowski has two pieces in this exhibition that abstractly utilize the human form. With an aggressive drawing style displayed in “Letting Go”, Jankowski forcefully applies charcoal to paper and then gently erases into the surface to revile the likeness to the human form. The aggressive marks—seemingly referring to the chaos of life—are contrasted by a ghostly representation of skeletal remains. The image seems to represent the release of anxiety after leaving the physical form.
Jankowski’s second piece from the collection is titled “Untitled: He’s Number 8”. With a lighter, more delicate touch, this image subtly emerges from the page to invite the viewer into an environment of treasures. Diagonal lines mimic the aggressive marks of “Letting Go” but this quieter technique is less startling. With the implication of a figure buried within layers of random objects, Jankowski seems to be referencing the multitude of “things” that we collect and use to identify our selves. The quiet elegance seems to have a darker message… perhaps it’s an observation of the objects cluttering our personal environments.
Michael Jankowski, "Letting Go", charcoal on paper, 1997, 25.25"x19.25"
Michael Jankowski, "Untitled: He's Number 8", charcoal on paper, 2000, 24"x18"
All of the pieces in this exhibition have many layers of content. The images may be enjoyed for their obvious beauty but if you look a little further, deeper meanings will emerge.
The exhibition includes the work of: Janet Doroba, Gary Gordon, Jennifer Jackson, Michael Jankowski, Joe Killiea, Paula Kloczkowski Luberda, Roland Kulla, Diane Kunzler, Ginny Mangrum, Maggie Meiners, Julia DelNagro Oehmke, and RK Williams. I will be writing about other presented work in the coming weeks.
The “Selections from the Collection” exhibition will continue through July 8th. Gallery 180 is located at 180 N. Wabash—at the corner of Lake and Wabash—in Chicago’s Loop. The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8am-8pm, Friday 8am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm.