Alex Valentine is an artist, DJ, teacher, all around awesome guy, and a master of the offset printing medium. Offset printing is a traditionally commercial process somewhere in between digital printing and lithography that uses ink on rubber blankets to transfer images to paper, and is how magazines, cereal boxes, and Red Stripe bottles are produced. Using this process, Valentine creates layered, painterly abstractions that are intuitive and crisp, showcasing his command of color, form and transparency. His recent solo show at Devening Projects + Exhibitions in Chicago, ‘Blonder Tongue Audio Baton,’ borrowed its title from a 1950’s analog graphic equalizer and the title of a Swirlies album. And it makes sense: there’s something about Valentine’s work that indicates a stringent belief in the analog, recalling early 90s record cover design.
Black Thorns in the White Cube is a group show that presents work by eight contemporary artists influenced by the “mystic obscurity” of Black Metal music. The exhibitors “explore haunted Germanic forests, descents into the void, visual translations of sonic experiences, ontologies of Black Metal band logos, and barren western landscapes.” Curator Amelia Ishmael is a Black Metal scholar – a mix of curator, art historian, and artist who specializes in the thorny intersections between Black Metal music and contemporary art. She is also the co-editor of Helvete, a journal of Black Metal Theory. The exhibition lands at the Chicago gallery space Western Exhibitions from Kansas City this Friday.
Antonia Gurkovska just graduated from the MFA program at SAIC and already has already landed a solo exhibition in Chicago’s Kavi Gupta Gallery and is exhibiting in the Armory Show. She favors surfaces that are stapled and dripped, sticky, slippery and oozing, emulating dripping orifices; but they somehow remain extremely neat, hygienic, settling in even, grid-like formations. A variety of painting materials are layered thickly, then crudely sliced to reveal further layers beneath, so the paintings appear reductive rather than additive. Her bubble wrap pieces, neither sculpture nor painting, serve to both reiterate her aesthetic of ovular forms and invite a reversal of material reading, where the packaging product sheds its banal connotations and instead becomes a beautiful, bulging, golden grid.
Rusty Shackleford creates collages, sculptures, and arrangements that investigate the relationship between image and form, engaging vintage printed matter to extrude its inherent qualities, of color, context, and nostalgia. The resulting images are delicately poised between abstraction and representation, paint and print. Shackleford does not treat his images preciously: he ravages them with swaths of paint, but he strikes a surprising equilibrium between readymade and intervention. His sculptures function similarly to his collages, where color and form, executed boldly in a minimal, Modernist style, integrate smoothly with the colors and forms in their surroundings.
I have been a close friend of Chicago-based artist Wyatt Grant since we studied together at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he blew me away with his 20+ layer screen prints on fabric. He graduated this past May with me, having worked fluidly between sculpture, print media, and painting. His works fuse a personal alphabet with a warm, dedicated aesthetic that is consistent throughout all of his work, both abstract and representational. The works have a rose-tinted magical realism to them, a narrative that is both specific and achingly mysterious. Wyatt is also a musician, producing shoegaze-y acoustic tunes studded with electronic loops under the name Pool Holograph. More after the jump.