Oct 22nd 2010

Sarah Hicks: New Work and Bret Slater: Pump Fake

@ Thomas Robertello Gallery

939 West Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60607

Opening Friday, October 22nd, from 5PM - 8PM

On view through Saturday, December 4th

Sarah Hicks‘ recent work fuses morphologies of living things and mass produced objects with abstraction, yielding scientific curiosities of decorative vernacular. This recent body of work explores the ambiguity of forms and structures borrowed from plant life, skeletons, human forms, and microenvironmental data. Through the manipulation of form, line, color and materiality, Hicks investigates the inherent infatuation people have with commodities symbolizing beauty, sexuality, movement, tangibility, and optimism. Under this premise, she cross references hybrid forms installed at various elevations in the gallery space, evoking responses of subconscious wonderment to objects of desire.

The hard fragile materiality notwithstanding, Hicks manages to convey a sense of airiness and absence of mass in her work. The delicate souffle-like creations are absurdly poised on the brink of decay, showing an artist in full possession of her technique as a ceramicist, pushing the buttons of visual delight.

The gallery presents Pump Fake, an exhibition of work by Bret Slater, in the gallery’s project space. Slater’s abstract paintings, tape-on-wall installations, and assemblages combining drywall, cardboard, and other low-tech materials are a handyman’s nightmare of subverted utility. Combining his own brand of feckless minimalism with a Forrest Gump-like countenance, Slater manages to imbue each piece with poise and charm—or poison charm? The material banality of his work belies its captivating dignity, and suddenly the heightened intrigue of tape on a wall normally reserved for a drug induced experience commands scrutiny. The work rejects authority, and avoids traps leading to art historical references, all the while possessing extensive knowledge of the likes of Blinky Palermo, Kurt Schwitters, and Richard Tuttle, among many others. Slater’s work is lousy with paradoxes leading, diverting, and ultimately revealing lithe sincerity. In addition, heavily considered formal qualities and madcap construction decisions completely emulsify.

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