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Joe Baldwin, Veronica Bruce, Dan Giordan
Robert Bills Contemporary
222 N. Desplaines Street, Under the "L", on Desplaines St., at Lake St., Chicago, IL 60661
December 11, 2010 - January 4, 2011

Material Syntax
by Joel Kuennen




On the east side of the Fulton Market area, a new gallery has popped up this year. Down some stairs, round a couple of corners, and through several halls, one finds Robert Bills Contemporary. Over the year, Robert Bills Contemporary has exhibited talented artists like Nathan Vernau, Lisa Nonken and Woohyun Shim. This show is no exception. Work spills out into the hall from this packed sugar cube. It takes a moment or two to settle on a rotational direction but I decided on counter-clockwise that night.

(Image: Veronica Bruce. Hanging Out)

First up, are Veronica Bruce’s painting-sculptures. Found material is combined to perform constructive problem solving. Vibrant foam core with the look of cotton candy erupts through glossy surfaces in her piece Hanging Out. Other work utilizes photographs of architectural elements to provide an ulterior plane off of which swashes of color burst out across the surfaces. Her work is playful, both with the material she uses and the foundations of the practices she invokes. The pieces are youthful and vibrantly violent in their composition.

(Image: Dan Giordan. Shut Up Cinderblock)

Dan Giordan’s work shares the use of architecture to evoke spatiality but the comparison ends there. Giordan’s work seeks to produce photorealist aesthetics with an abstract but painstaking approach to his practice. Beginning with a piece of Tyvek material (yes, that weather-proofing material found on insulation) and printing photographs of the urban environment he inhabits, then overpaints and prints again, and again, and again. The effect is a hypertextured photorealism that allows for an artist’s gesture to be wrought. They are eerie and foreboding pieces, and in this way, attain an affective realism.

(Image: Joe Baldwin. Triptych 2)

On the center wall hangs Joe Baldwin’s triptych of a twenty-minute drive out of Chicago, next to a black and white wavelength portrait. The triptych was done using a program Baldwin designed to convert a video image into a single line of pixels. The result is a scrunched up panorama of space that seems to change little through time. It’s relaxing and somehow comforting in the measured uniformity.

(Image: Joe Baldwin. Slit 1)

Joe Baldwin’s work definitely catches the eye. His black and white work is strangely hypnotic. Made using a modified flatbed scanner, these images produce a kind of time-elapse representation. The effect is an exaggeration of marked time and therefore a surfacing of the process of time itself. According to the artist, this work is an attempt to depict the spatial quality of time as opposed to the general experience of time. Through the speed with which we traverse space, we try to conquer time, but always it marches on, rhythmically towards oblivion. With Baldwin’s images, we get an interesting look at that rhythm.

-Joel Kuennen, ArtSlant Staff Writer

Posted by Joel Kuennen on 12/13/10

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