B. David Zarley

April 21, 2018, 9:23am

Animal Hearts and Alprazolam Eyes: Nikki Maloof at Shane Campbell Gallery

They seem to be … scanning …  searching … through the white walls and white light, past Cermak … beyond Brooklyn … these massive, searching, scanning, yearning, alprazolam eyes, wide and wet with an anxious energy belayed by the piano-wire purse of their mouths, and it's a funny thing, seeing this menagerie—a stallion deep and dark and strong and arresting as the abyss; a wind blown canine the color of youth soccer and science fair trophies, its ears moving like a model's hair; cats with the casual repose of Instagram influences, languid echoes of Versailles; a bat neigh-indistinguishable from its night, wings face fur rendered in dried russet, a tropological coagulate crowned, like all its mates, up to and including the dead fucking fish, with those eyes—these eyes, with complete disregard for science and anatomical fidelity, tasked not with anything so brute and beautiful as physiology but instead being bent towards the philosophical, giving every animal here a look that's not of them, and not of us—the eyes aren't human; more super-human, really, uncanny, like anime eyes whose very size and depth seems capable of expressing exigency beyond anything but reality—but is of a universal human feeling, that painful, wistful vibe, hope tinged with fear as we scan the horizon, check the sidewalk, hold our breath for a text, the scars in our eyes reflected back at us—with vibrancy and humor and the alienation requisite for recognition—in Nikki Maloof's creatures, the Arecibo Observatories set within their skulls scanning, searching, complete heterochromia combing the distance, the Klonopin horizon, for an intelligence they don't fully understand, every pet part of SETI … – B. David Zarley , Chicago Contributor 


Nikki Maloof | Her Name Is Ut Pictura Poesis, 2018. Oil on canvas. 72 x 61 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. Photo by Evan Jenkins.

Listed under: Review

February 25, 2018, 8:45am

About the Shape of It: Magalie Guérin at Corbett vs Dempsey

God, let's just start with a list, right?, and if it seems a bit daunting, just imagine poor fucking Linnaeus, setting forth to categorize sundry and all living things, whereas this is but a brief run-down and accounting for of some of the shapes-a sampling of the vast geographic ecosystem-of Magalie Guérin's (NAP #119) worlds, shapes anatomical/biological-flesh-colored trash bags, barred teeth, raw nails, conch snail shells-shapes mechanical-vintage car grills and taillights and doors and bench seats, mid-century modern chairs, shafts of lamp light from a noir gumshoe's desk, perfume bottles, awl handles, backsplash tiles, famished walls with studs showing, the glowing jukebox flanks of a sci-fi set, the curled remnants of a high school art class pastel set's cover paper, the ribs of rent cardboard-all nestled up amongst each other in the cool colors of pallid death or the never-living, enamel and sclera and cream and subcutaneous fat, contractor wall color and brutalist concrete and refrigerator light … and the paintings are none of those things, not really; well, they are all of those things, but only to me, on a Sunday morning in February, aided/impeded by time, distance, memory, an exercise in form until the very end … - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Magalie Guérin | Untitled, 2017. Oil on canvas on panel. 20 x 16 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago.

Listed under: Review

July 12, 2017, 8:39am

Positive Mass: Chris Uphues at Linda Warren Projects

It's radiant, really, fucking radiant  in that flat-flash, bursting way, the terrible beautiful brilliance of a blank screen or the momentary dawning of a second, subjected sun—wrought by us, meant for us, heat and power of the kind which makes people gods—over a blighted Pacific atoll, radiant and giving off a palpable …vibe, a kind of psychic heat, Heavy Sunshine, buzzing from the apian engine which drives it with the cosmic exigency which only derives from density, an immensely dense little star of positivity, happy imagery—flowers, mountains, clouds, houses, bees, bunnies, books, baseballs, brick facades, bananas, watermelon slices, apples and pineapples and mushrooms, computer monitors, keys, clocks, lampshades, pyramids, the majority made animate, all gaping eyes and content smiles stretching across their faces like cats in a sunbeam—condensing into a heavy star, loosed now and setting in to a dark sea obliterating, by virtue of its weight, all that lays before it, so long as any wavelength still finds its mark among the rods and cones; a washing over of giddy happiness, all of the sudden made manifest—like the soft dolphin clicking which makes background radiation real—by an ecosystem fed by the heavy sunshine, lapping up those vibes, spilling out from the walls and onto the floors, grass, green grass, too-green grass, the putt-putt Eden which will never die and upon which sprout fungi whose life cycles are not derived from the decay of matter, but instead of inhibitions, fears, doubts, angers, hatreds, anxieties, all manner of varieties of the grossly negative which stick, plaque-like, to the brain, and all of which are obliterated—that's the only word, the proper word—by the heavy sunshine of the radiant little dense positivity star, burned and devoured in the light of weaponized joy, the kind which dissolves people into paroxysmal saline puddles of tears and teeth, gratitude etched across each grin by benevolent, indomitable force…– B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Listed under: Review

May 25, 2017, 9:28am

Jean Alexander Frater: Fold; Don't Spindle and Mutilate

What it looks like is, ok, like the hurried ancillary sculpture of an active hand, like a Monument to a Moment, the slip—in the course of creation—of fabric, the errant falling and perfect, frozen fantastic memory of a bolt in some divine designer-artist's atelier, a static haint of a kinetic flourish, the same ephemeral, cigarette-smoke beauty we find curling from a hot cherry or in the letting down, the glorious, luxurious exhale, of an up-do or cascading over the side of some steep embankment, Niagara, Victoria, Angel; it looks like the terrible, painful Monument to a Moment One Would Rather Forget, like a broken arm—the radius and ulna snapped through, the spasming, spider-sprayed-with-bleach digits dangling, the grotesque thing held together by extensor and flexor carpi radialus, flexor and extensor pollicis longus and brevis, radialii, digitorums, palmaris longus, pronator teres, the lonely exertions of the biceps brachi—but only when viewed with the negative and corporeal in mind; it looks like mis-caught pizza dough, with its pallid spine draped over the hand like an examined necklace, or a sea cucumber being garroted, and only all of these things—minus the textile—if one ignores the colors, the combination of GO Transit green and raw, creamy canvas, which gives it a Gilded Age flair even as gravity leaves it dangling in its belly, but what Green Stripes Event (so perfectly named!) does not look like, at first blush, is a painting; it's obviously painted, of course—those stripes aren't woven, didn't come from nowhere—and has those various things a painting would have, where it to be broken down anatomically—and it is the protrusion, like a compound fracture, of the painting's support, broken at the top, dangling at the bottom, which gives it both its injurious and closet-ready qualities, although the former is far more important, and keeping with the spirit of the show, than the latter—but it does not sit like a painting, compose itself as a painting should, back straight, belly tight, against the wall, a tidy lie, telling us that it exists in two dimensions… - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Jean Alexander Frater | Green Stripes Event, 2017. Acrylic on canvas and support, 78 x 40 x 14 inches. Image courtesy of THE MISSION

Listed under: Review

March 13, 2017, 12:34pm

Cinema Fatalité: Ben Murray at Monique Meloche

Up close, buried in it, approached with a loupe, it feels like … Christ …. like static on the wire, like the first crepuscular creepings of dextromethorphan—mucilaginous medicine the color old blood sloshing down sulci and optic nerves and then back up again—like a cataract, hot shimmering light and textual fuzz, an uncanny fading in, selachian skin rising up from a great obfuscating darkness—the darkness of the upstairs hallway when someone other than your parents had to put you to bed; the darkness of water the first time you are bifurcated by it; the darkness of every corner after a horror movie; the darkness of depths, of fainting, of dying—which is, despite its nature, because of it? you recognize the darkness, it's the door, but you don't know it, but it's shimmering, glistening, with promise and menace both—don't shark eyes glisten, and cobra hoods, and hypodermic needles, and freshly mopped floors, and sugars and fruits and feathers and halos?—and the simple fact of the matter is, presented with nothing but this great obfuscating black door, cruel Janus!, which seems to shine like the cheek bones of a post-performance circus artist and the soft spears of light the color of heliotropes, the gentle envoys of the blinding OR brightness behind the great obfuscating black door, you have all manner of reference points—a lifetime of them, memories and experiences and impressions and moments—but not a single solitary fucking cardinal direction; is the door holding something back? is it holding you back? should you go through it? should you hope and pray and scream and kick so that you never cross its threshold?

Do you die? – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Ben Murray | CLOSE – DOOR, 2017. Acrylic and ink on canvas, 84 x 78 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Listed under: Review

December 28, 2016, 10:20am

Rebecca Morris: On Blood and Abstraction

Here we have presented, in a perfect circle, as if in a petri dish or memorial china plate or a porthole—which, by the way, is the vanguard of windows, the aperture we gaze at when we want to be kept safely, securely, hermetically safe from whatever is on the other end of the thin pane we slick with the heat of our faces—the kind of pleasing gridded surface, so straight!, so soothing!, so perfectly correct and uniform!, bone white squares cut by aurelian lines ostensibly lineal but in actually imperfect, bulging a bit, a bit sloppy, like a military garrison on parade—so close to perfect, but still (for now) human!—or the grout lines in your bathroom … yes!, it's a bathroom floor, encircled in the petri dish, viewed through the porthole, bathroom tiles gridded out with gold, surrounded by marble (of course!), perfect save a pox, the red of dried blood—it's the brightest color in the whole room, really, this dried-deoxygenated-but-still-too-fresh blood, each splock with its own idiosyncratic hair style, pili radiating as is from the weakest sun, clumping into constellations, gentle parabolic forms like arched eyebrows, carrying in them a sense of ad-hoc exigency, the kinetic beautiful violence requisite for their application demonstrated in their forms, an abstract take on a passage from a Bret Easton Ellis novel—The bathroom reeks of bleach and disinfectant and the floor is wet and gleaming even though the maid hasn't started cleaning in here yet; Glamorama, pg. 256—a form of silent violence, an echo of a moment captured in all of its chaos atop a bone white grid, gleaming with gold, surrounded by marble, a porthole into God's own bathroom…- B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Rebecca Morris | Untitled (#01-16), 2016. Oil and spray paint on canvas, 68 x 69 inches. Photo courtesy of the artist and Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago

Listed under: Review

July 01, 2016, 10:42am

Joseph Noderer: The Appalachian Seahorse

There is constant irregular conflict behind the eyes—flash! electronic fusillades jumping viciously into the breach! burning, burning chemical warfare! psychological warfare, of the most personal and literal kind!—whether the brutal bedfellows Mercury and Mars, tussling for dominance and fucking to fuck you, or the constant recce and rendering benign of the dangerous and volatile thoughts accrued from the moment one awakes and slips into Society, or the punching of mirrors, or the delicate handling of nitroglycerin emotions, or the silencing of vicious tongues, or the bolstering of saintly patience, or the valiantly held redoubt, behind which happiness flies beautifully, vulnerably, the tattered and torn through—victim of a thousand missiles, from a thousand enemies, from a thousand directions—standard which, if all goes to plan (hah!) serves as both signal and spur … but few battles of the brain are more foundational, and therefore more potentially devastating, than the Soviet Spy style, low and slow, inevitable conflict between reminiscence and reality, the fungibility of memory a rose-colored radiation, seeping into every sulci, every incident, a terribly malleable foundation—Memory!—for us to build ourselves upon, leaving us all Houses on the Sand … – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Joseph Noderer | McConnells II, 2015. Oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches. Photo courtesy of Linda Warren Projects

Listed under: Review

June 06, 2016, 8:18am

Whitney Bedford: The Sinister Sublime

There are the trees, dark forms rising imperiously, and that's ok though, right?, a trick of the light, ombre over eyes, the natural failures of rods and cones—except they are so fucking black, atrous, really, black as coal, carbon, the remnants of fire, a sharp melange of serrations, selachian arcs, brachial bunches of alveoli, histological stains of striated muscle, pied abrasions, a forest seared into a wall, ashen memory, holocaustic photograph of a nuclear flash-lamp—and there is the sky, brilliant orange, too orange, unnaturally orange, not the color of monarch butterflies or poison dart frogs or innumerable other toxic lifeforms, not the color of citrus or lantanas or marigolds—dreadfully close to poppies, however—but safety orange, menacing safety orange, the kind commercial fishermen wear to be plucked from the black maw of the sea or hunter's place like a cuirass to protect against the accidental rending of human flesh, orange like the apocalypse, like literal and burning heat death, like the first and last glow of an existential risk, Nacarat Extinction, and it is apparent that East of Eden lies a place alien, fearful, sublime, hot and vibrating like catgut, verdant shoots even now erupting from the carbon and man-overboard-orange, and in the curve of the trees against the sky there is something pareidolic, a ghost in the nature, the SunSetter brow of an emaciated gorilla, perhaps, or, chest towards us, stereoscopic eyes thankfully looking away in majestic profile, the lean form of an ancient, savage, leopard, soft-gummed and eyeteeth innervate with pain, the kind which drags us, supposed Apex Animals, Fauna-cum-Gods, screaming into the impenetrable Cimmerian night, Jim Corbett save us!, sacred heart and sacred gun, the snuffing out of the flashes in the pan that turned the trees to cinder and the sky to fear. –  B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Whitney Bedford | The I do – I will, 2016, ink and oil on canvas on panel, 5 x 8 feet. Photo by Evan Bedford, courtesy of Carrie Secrist Gallery

Listed under: Review

April 25, 2016, 9:07am

Suzanne Gold: Hypoxic Serenity

Well now… and just what in the fuck are you doing here, hmm?, suspended or rising or, fuck, sinking, but underwater all the same, completely ensconced in this cool, sterile little personal void, a pet abyss in somebody's back yard, all over your head at the bottom of a David Hockney painting, the anti-body fluid which releases your limbs and evokes a feeling of weightlessness, even as you sink, cool, calm, muted, in color and temperature and tone and vibe and feel and yet you are burning, immolating?, burning in the eyes—those chemicals, the chemicals of preventive healing … the entire thing, the in-ground pool, is, after all, little more than a highly cultivated, perfect, meticulous planned, and violently executed wounding of nature, the leveling, the digging, the shattering of any earth which dares resit—Jesus, remember the mournful howls and paroxysmal wails of the car alarms, the whole development screaming and jabbering and chittering, like big frightened birds, when that massive jackhammer came down, down, cracked the obstinate, rattled walls, windows, pictures, homes, set those crying beasts shaking on their suspensions—and then, upon the wound's completion, the endless prevention of healing, the shoring up of the gouge with concrete, the endless application, testing, balancing, and application again of a myriad of chemical agents to kill, relentlessly, to remove life from your water, to create a private sea antiseptic, safe, unflaggingly beautiful—and burning, relentless, desperate burning in your chest, and you are alone at the bottom of that sea, a world of off-white filtered through water, tiles the horizon line between here, which is beautiful and cold and clean and where you most assuredly do not belong, and there, with its air, its sound, its sun, its unfiltered light … the light, the light dances across the tile line, some of it finding its way to the bottom, to you, some of it being arrested, locked into a dark form, on the deck, some of it hurtling quixotically towards the pool's surface, shattering itself against the top, exploding into clinquant little pieces, the brilliant light of sun, of the surface, of life … of hypoxia? - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Suzanne Gold | The deep end, 2016, screen print on canvas, 65 x 41 inches. Photo by Cory Malnarick

Listed under: Review

March 06, 2016, 8:15pm

Andrew Holmquist: Beyond the Crimson Veil (With Apologies to Doctor Strange)

They hang long and heavy, something intimidating, candy-apple colored strips of heavy plastic and the mien they give off is industrial, a hint of alien aggressiveness, a slight soupcon of stay-the-fuck away like the lolling tongues of junkyard dogs or the K-9 unit on a high ride on the elevated train, breaking up Carrie Secrist gallery into … theaters, one supposes, Stage Left and all, and these massive curtains of heavy welding screens, beside making one think of the warehouse space in the back of a grocery store, besides adding immediate and indispensable curatorial heft and aegis for the observer—there is so much here, both conceptually and literally, Andrew Holmquist being an obviously inquisitive artist and Stage Left an ambitious undertaking, and having it all broken into more manageable sections is not only the smart thing to do, but the requisite thing to do—is to illustrate, in a simple, clever way that one will most likely not at first notice, the great thesis threading the whole thing together, that presentation and medium are to be bred like plants (or, of course, dogs!) and brought to heel, for the expression of various forms in various ways are inevitably linked, the old Marshall McLuhan idea, except played with, blown out, beautiful flowers on the old doctor's grave, and the easiest way to see this is to stand on one side of those heavy dog-tongue candy-apple screens, and look at the paintings Holmquist has placed on the other side—thrown into stark relief! defenestrated and tossed into a grey space of line and angle, soft ashen abyss—and then, most likely with gallery director/Holmquist elucidator Britton Bertran's encouragement, to push through the heavy curtains, which requires, let's not kid ourselves, a bit of work, definitely more than one would expect, being heavy as they are, and zap, the paintings scream to voltaic life, color and motion, no longer filtered through the heavy red, the medium and message—here, one supposes, the medium is the air, the rods and cones, the curtain, the space, the exhibition—instantly transformed, and one is, with apologies to Doctor Strange, beyond the crimson veil! - B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor


Andrew Holmquist | Installation view through the welding screens. Photo by RCH|EKH, courtesy of Carrie Secrist Gallery

Listed under: Review

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