Jan 11th 2019

Material Objectivity

@ Baby Blue Gallery

2201 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Friday, January 11th, from 7PM - 10PM

On view through Saturday, February 2nd

Artists Cindy Bernhard, David Downs, Boris Ostrerov, and Erin Smego explore varied ways of expanded painting. By transgressing a painting’s conventional parameters of the flat rectangular surface, the artists use paint not to create illusion, but to bring the material into the space of the viewer. Each apply paint or fabric to materials long used in creating painting surfaces (stretchers/panels) albeit in an innovative way – making paint rest on flat substrates, protrude from the surface material, and use unconventional shapes as supports. While engaging in several forms of mark making, tactility, and physical depth, each artist’s work explores individual themes and ideas with their materials as they reference historical traditions and social constructs. In an age where much of art viewing is seen through compressed jpegs, these ‘painted sculptures’ yearn for adequate embodied viewing which only an exhibition space can provide.

Cindy Bernhard utilizes pastry tools to playfully celebrate femininity and sexuality. Piles of oil paint transform into faux decorative icing creating immediate seduction and excess. Through this mode of application, paint and object become one in the same, announcing a physical presence which rivals sculpture. This hybridity of signs and practice allows her to re-contextualize the use of traditionally domestic tools with snippets that are often tongue-in-cheek.

David Downs references the death of Jackson Pollock, relating it to David’s own sudden change from painting nonobjective abstraction to creating something more representational. The work titled, “We Can Survive This” is constructed of elements that traditionally make up an oil painted canvas, yet he pushes those boundaries into a three-dimensional sculpture.

Boris Ostrerov’s squeezing and stacking, as well as the natural stretching and falling of the oil paint recalls bodily excretions, libidinal energy, and excess. The substrates he prepares defy convention; often taking the form of shelves that either lay flat on the wall or protrude deep into the viewer’s space. Together, with the stacking and layering of the paint Boris references the history of painting while pushing its fundamentals to bizarre extremes.

Erin Smego’s sculptures and installations use deconstructed fabrics from consumer fashion goods to reference contemporary culture. The soft, flexible, or stretchy properties of the materials she sources is forced into sharp angular geometric forms built of wood beams and other hardware. Light and space are taken into consideration through shadow play and colorful reflection or refraction within the space the sculptures inhabit.

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