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Art Sun Sep 23 2012

Britt's Top Three Exhibitors at EXPO CHICAGO

It was apparent within my first few moments at EXPO CHICAGO that the caliber of artists and the chosen galleries were above and beyond the last year of Art Chicago. Last year, I reported on the dearth of quality of work at the now-defunct exposition. The attendees were more exciting than the artists and the Merchandise Mart, with its expansive yet claustrophobic environment did not provide a welcoming environment. Unlike Art Chicago, one of EXPO CHICAGO's greatest advantages are the size and scale of Navy Pier's Festival Hall. The vast ceilings and open floor plan allows room for guests to breathe. But most importantly, that extra space gives viewers a chance to actually see the art. The guests at last year's Art Chicago were compelling because that is all one could see in the tightly-packed space. EXPO CHICAGO succeeds then in its great focus on art. Rather than stifling the purpose of the exposition, EXPO presents works cleanly and precisely for collectors and novices alike. Below are my picks for the top galleries and artists for EXPO CHICAGO 2012.

Aperture Foundation

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Aperture Foundation's select presentation of emerging and contemporary photographers was a welcome first viewing at the exposition. The works included by the foundation included Jason Lazarus' Untitled, from the series "2004-Present." With the phrase "Your Time is Gonna Come" emblazoned in the image, the work is smart and timely, a welcome reminder of the freshness of the exposition and many of the artists included in it.

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Other choice works include Bruce Davidson's, Untitled (Couple on the Platform), a lovely picture of a young couple in the '80s and a complement to Chicago's current street photography cache through photographers such as Barbara Crane and Dawoud Bey.

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Hank Willis Thomas, who makes another appearance at Roberts and Tilton, begins an interesting foray into ideas of intersectionality, a common theme among chosen artists. His work, After Identity, What?, was small but packed a hefty punch by asking what becomes of the self in the present as well as in the future. As a society, we are in the midst of adoption of identity in its myriad of forms. What comes after this time? Is it better or just the same?

~*~

Max Estrella

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Angelica Dass' Humanae project aims to document the range of human color (skin tones) by categorizing through and referencing the Pantone color scheme. As part of her exhibition of past work, Spain's Max Estrella Gallery set up a private photo studio for Dass and any willing participants. The project and shoot was just another example of the ways in which EXPO CHICAGO aimed to think outside of the box in terms of audience participation and inclusion. Much of the talk surrounding the exposition focused on bringing in high-caliber collectors to purchase the numerous works on display. However, for those of us with a smaller budget, works like Dass' project allowed for the exposition to move beyond the scale of the market and instead reflect the diversity of its audience and fans.

~*~

Roberts and Tilton

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Los Angeles' Roberts and Tilton presented an array of artists practicing in different mediums. Standouts included creations by Daniel Joseph Martinez, Kehinde Wiley, and Hank Willis Thomas. Martinez' Present + Future used the popular form of neon lighting to create a clean and crisp work that again invoked the spirit of the weekend.

Some have argued that Kehinde Wiley's artistic scope is too limited and that his very specific aesthetic combining the baroque with the urban contemporary would eventually wear then. That might still happen, but it is through works like Morthyn Brito that Wiley reveals yet another layer to his vision. Wiley's works stand out because of the means in which he challenges ideas and stereotypes of the urban aesthetic. Using men as his first subjects was especially important as a means of challenging perceptions are emphasizing his goals.

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But the female form still has its charms. Audiences can view this new challenge at the Sean Kelly booth where Wiley's Shatavia Beale II is on display. In this latest work, Wiley finds a way to breathe life into his work by presenting a portrait of a young black woman who appears cheeky yet regal.

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This challenge toward the stereotypes of the black image was seen again in Simone Leigh's exquisite, florally-decorated head bust sculpture. The contrast in colors of the yellow flowers and the glossy black bust were visually heady.

EXPO CHICAGO ends today and is located in Navy Pier's Festival Hall, 600 E. Illinois Ave.

 
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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »

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