Rachel Niffenegger fabricates a ghostly erotic club displaying skeletal sculptures and distressed fabric shrounds, utilizing both rooms of the gallery. This is her second solo show at Western Exhibitions, opening with a free and open to the public reception on Friday, September 6 from 5 to 8pm and running through October 19, 2013.
Combining seductive unveiling with psychological and physical deterioration, Niffenegger presents works that complicate notions of the body, sculpture, clothing and painting. In Western Exhibitions’ front room, she presents three skeletal sculptures and a large tapestry painting in an atmosphere of performative eroticism that also recalls a minimalist dance club. Her back gallery will function as an exclusive space, resembling a private dressing room.
Niffenegger's sculptures rest atop a tiled glass floor that itself rests atop debris from her studio. It's at once slick and dirty, like a dance floor in Hades. Her sculptures are bone-like - warped steel rods, covered in epoxy clay - and curvaceous at the same time, exotic skeletons striking a pose. They are stripped of skin, clothes and identifying features. Placed on the glass floor, they gesture in front of a full wall painting that doubles as a backdrop, its stained fabric similar to the “garments” hanging in the back room.
In the back room dyed and distressed fabrics hang; painting hybrids Niffenegger has referred to in the past as "shrouds". Hanging amid seating and illuminated by light from behind private curtain, the shrouds also function as clothing, skins and spirits, all referencing the residual imprint of the body. The work in both rooms focuses on the ephemeral state of the feminine figure in contemporary society as Niffenegger stages her effigies in various states of undress and distress. They flux between statuesque and formless, sentient and petrified through the restyling of elements: steel, fabric, and flesh.
Rachel Niffenegger recently returned to United States after a nine-month residency at DE ATELIERS in Amsterdam. While in Europe, she presented a solo show at Club Midnight in Berlin and was included in group shows at Museum for Modern Art in Arnhem and Bourouina Gallery in Berlin. She has been included in group shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Tracy Williams Ltd in NYC , Ceri Hand Gallery in Liverpool, and in Chicago at Corbett vs. Dempsey, Andrew Rafacz Gallery and the Hyde Park Art Center. Chicago Magazine named her "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. Niffenegger, born in Evanston in 1985, received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in 2012.