Art Chicago '03 riviu (Santiago Cucullu, Julie Verhoven, Sergio Vega, Peres Projects)

otro review de la maleta...aquí uno publicado en Arte al Día sobre la prescencia latina en Art Chicago 2003.

Art Chicago 2003

Art Chicago 2003
by Pedro Velez

The 11th annual Art Chicago, presented by Thomas Blackman Associates, featured 200 galleries exhibiting the work of approximately 2,000 artists.

This year's edition of the fair included a significant representation of dealers from California, New York, Chicago, and Korea. Some of the trends that could be appreciated at the fair revealed an emphasis on drawings on paper, small-scale sculpture, and the revival, in every medium, of figurative work with a touch of surrealism. Remarkably, most of the memorable art came from a group of contemporary Latin American artists working in all sorts of media and concerned with a great variety of themes. Participating galleries from Latin America included, among others: Nara Roesler, Brazil; Galería El Museo and Fernando Pradilla, Colombia; Arte Actual Mexicano and Praxis, Mexico; Galería Altxerri and Galería Metta, Spain; and Galería La Casona, Cuba.

The highlight at Rhonna Hoffman Gallery (Chicago) was Thomas Hirschhorn´s impressive Necklace CNN, a large-scale sculpture of a golden chain (made of foil, tape and cardboard), with the CNN logo attached to it. In sharp contrast with the monumentality and showinessof Hirschhorn´s workwas Shirley Tse's Cinderblock Dream of Being Styrofoam, presented by Shoshana WayneGallery (Santa Monica). Tse's piece is an excellent wall relief made of blue styrofoam, which looks like a weird archeological find from outer space.

The Mexican dealer Enrique Guerrero gave center stage to Pedro Reyes and his installation Sad but Happy, a beautiful and functional structure in steel and plastic, inside which viewers were allowed to crawl. Also at Guerrero, an amazing Guillermo Kuitka drawing of what seems to be a melting concert-hall sitting-chart. Titled Holiday Inn, Kuitka's piece is a sad reflection on how an empty architectural space affects mood.

Art Chicago veteran Galería Espacio Mínimo (Madrid) did not disappoint with a vulgar and exotic installation by Enrique Marty, consisting of a living room area that has been decorated with wallpaper, paintings, a video and life size sculptures of grotesque characters who bleed through their mouths. Less flashy, but as elaborate as the installation at Mínimo, were the photos and sculptures by Argentinean-born Gainesville-based artist Sergio Vega, presented at Julia Friedman Gallery (Chicago). My favorite piece, Amphibian Retreat, is an imaginary and elaborate architectural model that the artist has adorned with the head of an alligator and thathas the texture of a serpent's skin. Also at Julia Friedman, watercolors by Santiago Cucullu, a young artist born in Argentina and raised in Washington, whose works were recently included in How Latitudes Become Form?, at the Walker ArtCenter in Minneapolis. Cucullu's intricate watercolors featurepiled-up houses, buildings and stairs creating pseudo-sculptural spaces that look like mountains.

The most attractive booth in the fair was by Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery (Chicago), thanks in part to "All of it/ Everything", a mural by Ken Fandell, one of the city?s most respected conceptualists. The 12 by 6 mural consists of color photographs of flowers (some in full bloom and others dying), in an installation comprising 65 images from a project of over 500 images. The piece questions our desire to invest emotionally in nature and in nature's imagery. Ultimately, this piece is about wishful thinking, love and failure. A great accomplishment, considering that love can be such a cliché in art.

Praxis International (Argentina) presented paintings by Ignacio Iturria, while Jacob Karpio (Costa Rica) exhibited Ten con Ten, a beautiful abstract assemblage made of layered pieces of blue plastic and paper, whose author was the Puerto Rican artist based in New York Ivelisse Jiménez.

The two most talked-about artists in the fair were Julie Verhoeven and Amy Dicke.The former, represented by Mobile Home (London), exhibited a series of figurative drawings that combined cartoon-like figures and fashion. And Amy Dicke presented at newcomer Peres Projects from LA, a wall installation of drawings/ portraits made in true gothic rock style.

Another gallery from the West Coast was Lizabeth Oliveria Gallery, whichfeatured paintings by Nick Ackerman. Ackerman's imagery consists of a tastefully colored array of explosions, text and numbers floating over mountains or just in plain air.

From Havana, Cuba, Galería La Casona featured the paintings of Roberto Diago and René De Jesús Pena, and photographs by Marta María Pérez Bravo. At Galería Visor (Valencia),Valentín Vallhonrat made an impressive debut with his Room For Love Series, a group of photographs of bedrooms, so excessively decorated and baroque that it was hard to think of them as real and not as staged by the artist.

Galleria Pack, from Italy, staged works by Nicola Di Caprio combining photography and music. In Possible Landscape: Chicago, the artist featured a photo of his collection of records, only the records made in or related to Chicago, in an attempt to construct a sociological portrait of the city.

But the surprise of the show came from the Puerto Rican artist Cándida Alvarez, at Rena Bransten (San Francisco), with Blink, a fascinating diptych in which the image of a dead deer, painted in black, accompanies that of a landscape as seen from a moving vehicle. Blink is a reflection on death, memory, and beauty.