Warrior King by Paul Keene is a painting that looms over you as you approach, living up to its name. The piece was shown by Dolan/Maxwell (Philadelphia).
Below are: carnival by Florian Krewer (Michael Werner Gallery , NYC, London), Green Rain by Ross Caliendo (Ross + Kramer Gallery, NYC, East Hampton) and Orion Mists and Fireflies by Eric Aho (DC Moore Gallery, NYC). All stood out for quite different reasons.
Krewer is a German artist who has been exhibiting for about ten years. He has pieces in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris and Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. There is darkness in the artist's work and plenty of distorted limbs and countenances. Yet there is something child-like too. This is meant as a compliment. There is something real in the work. Yes, I know that isn't terribly specific.
Caliendo's pieces are haunting, often depicting trees or architecture. Each has a predominant color like Green Rain. There is amazing depth to every painting.
Aho's work is deceptive. From a distance it looks like grass, sky but then, when you approach it it adds via subtraction. Trunks leap up, partially articulated. The painting makes you feel there is more there, something beneath the surface.
Skeletons of Society, below, is by Chris Rivers (Pontone Gallery, London, Augusta) was one of three related paintings by the artist There is a whiff of Hieronymus Bosch (but only a whiff). I loved how the glossy parts of the painting frame the center creating the impression of a space, a hole. What looks like pure abstaction is full of figures on close examination. The photo on the right is detail from the painting to the left.
The observations here about Expo Chicago have been less pithy than some aimed at fairs and art at Miami Art Week 2021.
For one Expo Chicago had virtually no art that looked like second and third generation versions of "Mr. Brainwash," an artist I figure was part of an elaborate joke (or if it wasn't a joke it should have been). There isn't a banana taped to a wall or any such PR generated art either.Every year in Miami there is something ridiculous that allegedly "sells" for some ridiculous amount of money and is just plain silly. The year before last it was a banana duct taped to a wall. No one with a functioning brain thinks these stunts are actually real work. Frankly there is no reason to do that here as no one would actually cover it . Whether this is because Chicago is more sophisticated or because the media here don't care about art I will leave to your judgement.
There isn't much to HATE about anything at Expo Chicago.
Isn't that a little bit of a problem? After all, think of all the memorable art fairs and events in history. Something, in some booth, should inspire hate or at least ire. Not EVERYTHING. Art can certainly be pleasant but a little controversy would liven it all up. But maybe that should be the function of MORE fairs held simultaneously in Chicago. Why does Miami manage it while Chicago doesn't?
A few artists and gallery owners/workers have told me over the years that this fair is one where they hope to sell to institutions and corporate collections. Those sort of collectors are usually not interested in art depicting Che Guevara peeing on Jesus. So be it. I get that. That may be why this is a solid, impressive fair year in and year out. I've also had it suggested to me that Chicago doesn't have an art "scene" but several art scenes that won't even look at each other. I cannot speak to the veracity of this but it fits some observations I've made from the outside. While I am in Chicago I'm on the outside!