On Friday, May 20, Western Exhibitions opens two new shows: In Gallery 1, a two-person show by Rachel Niffenegger and Paul Nudd and in Gallery 2, "Band of Bikers" a show of found polaroids, organized by Scott Zieher. Both shows open with a reception that is free and open to the public on Friday May 20th from 5 to 8pm.
RACHEL NIFFENEGGER and PAUL NUDD traffic in arresting and grotesque imagery, depicting the body in ridiculous levels of distress. Though their goals differ -- Niffenegger's heads and body parts suffer damages from external sources; Nudd's figures seem diseased, comically so, from within -- both artists wrestle an indelible, even beautiful power from repulsive and revolting sources and materials.
Rachel Niffenegger's sculptures and paintings transcribe the figure in transitional states: between being and ghost image; statuesque and the formless; two-dimensional and three-dimensional spaces. Her effigies are created, manipulated and destroyed through ritual; torsos are cracked, propped up and covered, faces are absorbed and imbedded in cloth, and paint is picked off and reapplied to appendages. These objects are material gestures of the psyche fulfilling the necessity to make solid objects as a permeable and porous body. Materials travel between objects and are generated through discarded works as she employs spray-painted polystyrene, sawdust, concrete, ash, hair, plaster, and paint skins.
Paul Nudd's new large vertical drawings depict cartoonishly terrifying mutants, alien/human mash-ups besotted with tumors, warts, lesions, growths, male and female genitalia and mis-placed pubic hair. The slightly-larger than human full-body portraits feel like amalgamated bastard spawn of Nudd's gross-out heroes and influences: Paul McCarthy, Öyvind Fahlström, Peter Saul, Ivan Albright and of course, Jim Nutt, along with popular sources, movies like "The Fly", "Dead Alive", "The Toxic Avenger" and The Thing from the Fantastic Four. Nudd's hermaphroditic figures ("Most of the action goes on between the legs", per the artist) map bizarre physical characteristics with green being a prevalent color, representing life, growth, bacteria, mold, fungus and monsters, Frankenstein and the Hulk. These radioactive icons find redemption in disease, being self-aware bodies in a paranoid age, reveling in genetic mutations, bad pharmaceuticals and environmental degradation.
Chicago Magazine named Rachel Niffenegger's Chicago's best emerging artist in 2010 and New City named her one of "Chicago's Next Generation of Image Makers" in 2010, this after naming her the "Best Painter Under 25" in 2009. She currently has work in Seeing is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion, Museum of Contemporary Art, in Chicago and has been included in exhibitions at Ceri Hand Gallery in Liverpool, England and in Chicago at Corbett vs. Dempsey, the Sullivan Galleries at SAIC, The Post Family, and the Hyde Park Art Center. Niffenegger, born in Evanston in 1985, received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is currently an MFA candidate at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Paul Nudd currently has a large mutant drawing in Seeing is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion, Museum of Contemporary Art, in Chicago and has been included in exhibitions in New York, Dusseldorf, Kanas City and Chicago. Abraham Ritchie, wirting in ArtSlant called his recent curatorial effort, "Heads on Poles", organized with Scott Wolniak, "the Inadvertant Chicago Biennial". His prodigious zine work can be found in several national artist book collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Microsoft, Seattle; National Academy of Design, New York; Indiana University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Paul Nudd, born in 1976 in Harpenden, England and received his MFA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2001. He lives and works in Berwyn, Illinois.