Michael Nudelman: Light & Magic and Samantha Bittman
@ Thomas Robertello Gallery
939 West Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607
Opening Friday, September 10th, from 5PM - 8PM
On view through Saturday, October 16th
Michael Nudelman‘s painstaking process of creating ballpoint pen drawings, rendered in tens of thousands of small diagonal lines, currently is engaged with the hyper-romanticized landscape. The sources of his imagery are reproductions of famous artists’ work. For this show, consisting of nine drawings made in the past two years, Nudelman explores the work of American landscape artists, including several Hudson River School painters. Among them are Asher B. Durand, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, Frederic Edwin Church, and Thomas Chambers. In addition, he includes work by commercial artists who tend to be less respected in the contemporary art world: Thomas Kinkade, Bob Ross, and Robert Wyland.
With the human figure and any wildlife appearing in the original artwork removed, Nudelman’s drawings arrive through several filters and lenses. The original landscape paintings, whether depictions of the real or imaginary, are not used. He copies copies of images found on the Internet. His drawing process, much like a photocopier, further removes the images from the actual landscape revealing technical striations and occasional tiny globs of ink. Their artificiality, built using many layers of ink and a wide variety of colors, show the mundane in an unfamiliar way. Closer inspection reveals a complicated process and conceptual elements that belie the feathery lightness of visual components immediately seen in his work. The artificial constructs inherent in the work provide a gateway toward numerous aesthetic and conceptual interpretations.
The materiality of Nudelman’s drawings is often in sync with the ways in which our culture dissociates itself from the Earth. The deliberate use of less-than-archival ballpoint pen shows an artist at peace with his mortality as the work will inevitably age. The future of the drawings is difficult to predict. The colors will fade or break down at different rates. Wizened colors may point toward lost or dying species, and all may eventually be lost or gained, as a meditative creative gesture in the present extends itself toward a future of possibilities.
Concurrent with Nudelman’s work, the gallery is pleased to present as the inaugural exhibition in its project space, five recent paintings by Chicago-based artist Samantha Bittman.
Exploring the relationship between structure and image, Bittman’s paintings follow a predetermined set of guidelines dictating color, pattern, order, and texture. Four of the five paintings in the exhibition are on stretched handwoven cloth. The warp, weft, and weave structures remain visible, and are underscored or fully revealed by the painted patterns. A balance of play and logic becomes evident as underlying texture and form melds with a rational but imperfect overlay of painted areas. This subtle juxtaposition often gives way to an optical buzz that breaks down upon close inspection, making perception elusive and fully dependent on the viewer’s physical proximity to the work. The wide array of visual effects produced by individual works is extraordinary, ranging from a razor sharp flicker, much like a strobe light, to a meditative calm.
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