1545 W. Division, Chicago, IL 60642
Lloyd Dobler's present exhibition, "Pictures of Nothing," hitches its titular wagon to the star of Kirk Varnedoe's book, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art since Pollock. The group show features work by Philip Vanderhyden, a Northwestern MFA, You-Ni Chae, Neil Infalvi, and John Opera, all of whom hold MFA's from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and Michael Anthony Simon, who earned his BFA there.
The director and co-founder of the gallery, Patricia Courson, along with co-founder Rachel Adams, are also both SAIC alums. The selection of a masculine name, Lloyd Dobler, for the gallery was made more for its Chicago-ness. The gallery's name traces its roots to Chicago native John Cusack and his character in the eighties cult classic “Say Anything,” named Lloyd Dobler. Presently, Jason Jozwiak (also an SAIC alum) co-direct’s the space with Courson, assuming the responsibilities of Adams who’s off earning her MFA.
The bare-bones, yet sharply maintained exhibition space is the front room of the three bedroom apartment Courson, and roommates, occupy. A series of bay windows facing the small square hedged by Division, Milwaukee and Ashland, form one wall of the main exhibition space, within which a smart collection of abstraction is assembled. The eleven works that comprise the show also trickle out into the entryway and project alcove.
Neil Infalvi. Photo by Thea Liberty Nichols.
All five artists in the exhibition are represented by multiple works, a pleasant change of pace for a mid-season group show. Because of this, dialogues are fostered not just between artists working within the curatorial theme, but also between individual artists corresponding works. This occurs most successfully in the pairing by Neil Infalvi, whose two canvases with acrylic provide insight into the wide range of the artists visual vocabulary. Visitation Painting features melon, lime and star fruit colored washes and gentle halos encapsulating vaguely letter-like forms that ambulate across the foreground of the canvas, evoking a spray painted, or graffitied tableau. Across the room, on the facing wall, hangs the second Infalvi, which, now rendered in primary colors and sharper focus, feature fully articulated letters that, although painted, appear collaged on in a Dadaist tradition due to their variation in scale.
Abstraction's economy of means is challenged by You-Ni Chae's fluorescent explosion of varied paint handling and mark making techniques across the surface of her untitled oil on canvas at the entrance to the main rooms exhibition space, which is potentially more closely related to the "expansive" glut the gallery calls out in its curator's statement. But one of the humbler, yet haunting pair of works in the show are Philip Vanderhyden's untitled paintings, created by building up layers of medium and then pulling them across an oil ground. The final paintings resemble the folded curvature of a bulging curtain, functioning as both a picture of nothing, and an enticing, illusory picture of something uncertain.
--Thea Liberty Nichols