The Arts Club of Chicago will open the exhibition Figures and Grounds: Approaches to Abstraction, curated by Anne Rorimer. The exhibition features works by four contemporary artists: Stephanie Bernheim, Lawrence Kenny, Renée Petropoulos, and Linda Stillman. Each of these artists exhibits a unique approach to abstraction, presenting fresh articulations of visual form and color in the wake of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Pop Art. Their work examines the meaning and potential of abstraction in the contemporary art world.
Stephanie Bernheim studied with Milton Resnick at New York University. Most recently, she has turned her interest in abstraction toward the exploration of digital photographs, combined with an overlay of color and line “drawing” using a touchscreen mobile device. Exhibited at New York’s A.I.R. Gallery in 2011, these large-scale photographs, a selection of which will be displayed as part of Figures and Grounds, consider the application of technology in the creation of abstract “painting.”
Lawrence Kenny studied architecture with Myron Goldsmith and Fazlur Khan at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and was a practicing architect for many years. He lives in New York, where he works in a range of mediums. For Kenny, abstraction serves as a means for discovering the visual possibility within boundaries defined by logical yet open-ended systems. In addition to displaying a number of his two-dimensional works, Figures and Grounds will feature his large-scale sculpture 9x9x9 (2007–2010/2012), which deals with geometry, line, and space.
Renée Petropoulos lives in Los Angeles, CA, where she is represented by the Rosamund Felsen Gallery and teaches at the Otis Art Institute. Figures and Grounds will include her Homage series of paintings, which involves the interweaving of color systems derived from the flags of nation-states, accompanied by a sound track heard through ear phones. The pairings displayed in this exhibition will include From Iraq to Korea (2008–2009) and From Switzerland to Vatican City (2012). The series examines the possibility of fusing subject matter with abstraction.
Linda Stillman, based in New York City, began her career as a graphic designer. She initiated her Daily Paintings series in August 2005 and continues the project indefinitely, painting one small panel every day. The Daily Paintings depict a section of sky, as framed by the rectangular boundaries of a window pane in Stillman’s upstate New York studio. The outline of the windowpane provides a mental template for painting each day’s panel, no matter where she is. Figures and Grounds will display two years of the Daily Paintings: those from 2008 and 2009.
Anne Rorimer is an independent scholar specializing in Conceptual art. Formerly, she was a curator at The Art Institute of Chicago. She has published widely in art journals and museum exhibition catalogues, and has taught at Northwestern University, University of Chicago, and University of Illinois, Chicago. She was co-curator of Reconsidering the Object of Art: 1965-1975, organized in 1995 by The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is the author of New Art in the 60s and 70s: Redefining Reality (Thames and Hudson, Ltd., London: 2001 [hardcover]; 2004 [paperback]).