Either/Or/Both explores the poetics of relationships and correspondence through painting, drawing and text based work that troubles the boundaries between the intuitive and the systematic by making do within a set of givens and the possibilities in them.
Painters Hans Peter Sundquist and Samantha Bittman both work on woven patterned fabrics, Sundquist on found materials and Bittman on hand woven (by the artist) textiles. Sundquist layers his own colors and patterns onto the calculated surface of the manufactured materials; Bittman disrupts the woven patterns she creates through working back into the cloth with acrylic paint. Michael Milano’s drawings are patterns produced from exhausting all possibilities within a set of constraints. Those final drawings recall weaving drafts, which Milano further translates into sound work.
Sundquist’s work attempts perfection through masking, the even layering of sprayed paint and seemingly determined patterns, but his own subjectivity is betrayed by a lack of regimentation and subtle “mistakes.” Fashion, taste and haberdashery are all evident in Sundquist’s choice of men’s suiting materials as substrates, with his own interventions acting as marks of individuality within prescribed cultural forms. Bittman’s paintings begin with her hand-weaving a specific 2-color pattern that becomes the basis for her paintings. Working back into the cloth with the identical colors in acrylic paint, Bittman creates paintings that level the usual dichotomies between art and craft, objective and subjective, determined and intuitive. The weavings themselves require a system for their completion and Bittman’s interventions although systematic and known to the artist, appear more mysterious and intuitive. Milano’s drawings work out small “t” truths in his exhaustion of sets. By working out every possibility Milano explores questions of determinism and free will, a theme that permeates the exhibition in the posing of tensions between predictability and chaos or the question of what is subjective and intuitive versus objective and systematic. The inevitability of mistakes, glitches, and fallibility is present in all of these works, posed against the predictability – inherited or perhaps desired – that comes with predetermined, established or cultivated forms.
Michael Milano is an artist living and working in Chicago. He received a MFA from the Fiber and Material Studies department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Humanities from Shimer College. His work explores the structure and logic of weaving, binary systems and other rule-based processes through drawings, books, sound, and video. He has co-taught a class at Oxbow and facilitated an early Greek literature study group at the artist collective/study/gallery Adds Donna.
Samantha Bittman received her BFA in Textiles from Rhode Island School of Design and MFA in Painting/Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010. Through her weaving-paintings, she explores the relationship between image, structure and perception, drawing on her long-time interests in pattern and geometry. She’s exhibited extensively in Chicago at venues: Thomas Robertello Gallery, Western Exhibitions and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery, and in New York at Southfirst Gallery and in San Francisco at FFDG. In summer 2011 she’ll be participating in the Skowhegan residency program.
Hans Peter Sundquist majored in fine art at Bethel University, during which time he studied painting in the Domincan Republic, taught arts and crafts at Deerfoot Lodge in upstate New York, and spent a semester at the Oregon Extension. In 2005, he received a post-baccalaureate certificate, followed by an MFA in painting at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2007. Sundquist co-founded Julius Caesar in Chicago in 2008, an exhibition space he still runs with Dana DeGiulio, Diego Leclery, Colby Shaft, and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. He currently works for the Video Data Bank in Chicago.