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Event Sat Sep 28 2013
A second EXPO Chicago has now come and gone, passing through Navy Pier like an electrical storm, this time buzzing with a few new satellites -- countless gallery openings and open studios, but also medium-scale alternative fairs like the econo-centric EDITION at the Chicago Artists Coalition and the grassroots, street-oriented Fountain Art Fair at Mana Contemporary, all within five miles of Navy Pier. It's nice to see this happening... hopefully the city will be blowing up like Miami during Art Basel by next year. Or maybe we like to keep things a little more low-key in Chicago. In any case:
EXPO felt slightly less packed with art this year than last, but there was still plenty to keep your eyes awake and your brain popping off like popcorn for a solid two hours... and that's not including all the supplementary lectures, studio visits and champagne brunches that were set up for the fair. For most of us, it's best just to view the exhibition aspect of EXPO as a really hectic museum exhibit, with a lot of new, solid work by "museum artists". Looking at the prices will distract you. Some say EXPO's commercial, but it's hard to think of something as being all that commercial if only the 1% can entertain the concept of buying 99% of this stuff.
Again, painting shined and sculpture/photography/print and the other traditional medias weren't too far behind. A cluster of videos by local Paul Nudd (see below) really livened up the place as well as an interactive multimedia installation -- "Scenery", by Kathy Taslitz, another local artist.
Caesar collects detritus from specific places or events, puts the bits in a tub and congeals them with resin. Then he slices sheets off -- for EXPO they've been arranged in a geometric pattern on the wall.
Lagos lives and works in Bogota, stacking newspaper and then carving it into tree trunks, reversing time, in a way, and symbolically undoing what man has done. The collage at EXPO, while quite striking in person, doesn't photograph well. So here are some examples of his work from 2012:
Irijalba, who is currently working in Amsterdam, makes work which analyzes the way in which western culture recreates an abstract medium that loses all relations except to itself. His lush, large-scale color photographs at EXPO hypnotize us with their beauty, then give way to subtle digital manipulations which make us question our eyesight. Make sure to check out his website as well... his videos are quite intriguing if you have a minute to spend with them.
David Swirner showed a racy and relatively new piece by paint-world behemoth, Lisa Yuskavage, which had people turning their heads. Her candy-colored nightmare palette and shiny, buxom babydolls have a charming way of drawing people in and then grossing them out, just enough. And speaking of grossing out...
Local favorite Paul Nudd showed a handful of videos with Berlin's Gallerie Bourouina. Nudd's goopy, gurgling, lo-fi videos of bubbling gunk glitch around on vintage televisions, bringing a welcome dose of Chicago-style city grit into this pristine exposition.
All in all, sales or no sales (and there were sales), EXPO was again a success this year if only by virtue of bringing at least some of the world to Chicago. Plus, it's a fantastic resource for working artists to see what others like them have been up to. If you went, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. If you didn't, make sure to block out some time to check it and the satellite events out next year.