~ Milica Puric ~
“The Unknown King” Maurice Mbikayi, Johannesburg – Cape Town
More than 130 leading art galleries from 25 countries and 58 cities recently came to Chicago to be part of EXPO Chicago – one of the biggest art fairs in Midwest America. This international exposition of contemporary & modern art took place at historic Navy Pier and lasted from September 13th to September 17th. During these five days, everyone had an opportunity to find something interesting: business people – dealers, collectors, gallerists – made business deals, while art enthusiasts had an opportunity to see artworks from all over the world and eventually met and talked to artists…
Galerie Gmurzynska display with four round booths and paintings inside of each of them
This huge art fair with a variety of art displays throughout the huge convention center at Navy Pier space shows the cultural diversity of modern art.
Maurice Mbikayi, Johannesburg – Cape Town
Every gallery booth shows different artwork. Right beside the entrance is the Galerie Gmurzynska booth with four round booths – viewing rooms. Each booth was covered by exotic colorful curtains that were opened just enough to lure visitors to come inside to see paintings.
Chicago artist Jay Strommen beside his tablet (far left) at Zola Lieberman Gallery booth
Another interesting place is Gallery MOMO from Johannesburg/ Cape Town with beautiful artistic photographs and sculptures of Maurice Mbikayi of people warrior-dressed in computer keyboards.
“Love” by Francesco Clemente
A lot of art enthusiasts gathered at the booth of Zolla Lieberman Gallery where Chicago artists Jay Strommen explained to visitors his way of creating his glass-ash tablet.
‘Through An August’, Xaviera Simmons at David Castillo Gallery booth
‘This is 35 inch by a 12-inch ceramic tablet with glass-and the body of work. When I was studying at the Art Institute in 1999 and 2000 and I had decided to start pushing materials based on wood-firing accidents so that the glass and the ash from different tree species make different effects. So I started putting extra material and glass on rims and the edges and kind of tried to fast forward that accumulation that would normally take 7, 8, 9, or 10 days in the kiln to get. And then I was discovering that kiln shelves I was ruining looked pretty amazing. So, I started to study the accidents on the kiln shelves and then tried to figure out how I could frame those accidents. So I started to build the tablature to actually create those environments on a flat surface with reason. Clays are romantics… So, I decided to push the elements. There are water, fire, earth, and air. I pushed the earth material part of it pretty far. And then, I was thinking, “Wow, what can I do with the water, the air, the light, with the fire?” So, that’s where this part of the aperture and the piece started to become important. The glass really captured and reflects the light in a really nice way… And that’s been sort of the evolution of the pieces…’ Strommen said.
‘Looking Into the Darkness’, Paolo Ventura
A little bit further, a huge inflatable vinyl Fat Albert character lying face down on the floor. That is Sanford Biggers installation ‘Laocoön’ – a sculptural installation of Fat Albert, the main comedic cartoon character from Bill Cosby’s 1970s cartoon series, ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’.
Sanford Biggers installation ‘Laocoön’ – inflatable vinyl Fat Albert character from 1970s cartoon series ‘Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids’
The name Laocoön came from Greek mythology, more precisely from the story about the Trojan horse: Laocoön was a priest who tried to warn Trojans not to accept the gift – gigantic horse – from Greeks saying ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’. Biggers’ installation pays homage to the Trojan Priest of the same name and to the tense relations between minorities and organizations created to protect them.
A little further gallerist from Germany Rene Schmitt talks to visitors in his booth about the work of Lorraine O’Grady, an American artist whose work is represented at EXPO Chicago 2017 by his Gallery. ‘She is an American artist who was born in 1934 in Boston and she lives now in New York. Her work is called ‘Cutting out Conyt” which comes from the project she did in 1977 ‘Cutting out New York Times”’ he says.
This is his third visit to Chicago and his goal is to meet new collectors and institutional curators who may be interested in finding new works or find Lorraine O’Grady as interesting as he does.
He said that he knew Art Expo Chicago from the 90s when Art Chicago used to be the most important art fair in the world, especially in America. ‘That was the place you have to go (to) if you want to visit an art fair or if you want to see international contemporary art. And then, somehow, New York caught up, and became more and more important. But, now we see that EXPO Chicago is really catching up and becoming again important and it became a major art fair.
‘Untitled (Evil exists where good men do nothing)’ – Piero Golia’s sculpture of life-size guillotine at Gagosian’s booth
One of the strongest, darkest, and the most upsetting sculpture at EXPO Chicago 2017 is ‘Untitled (Evil exists where good men do nothing)’ Piero Golia’s sculpture of life-size guillotine at Gagosian’s booth. There is a hole where the person sentenced to death needs to put their head, there is a scary and sharp blade at the top of the guillotine… The longer you look, the more disturbed you feel, because you cannot believe that similar ‘devices’ executed thousands of people in the past by beheading. Today this guillotine represents the revolutionary power of art.
~ Milica Puric ~
© Photo and article by Urban Culture Tribe
“Chinese Student” by Duane Hanson
Tonny Tasset, ‘Snowman in two parts’, Kavi Gupta Gallery
“The Dogs Went Silence” Lavar Munroe, 2017, Jenkins Johnson Gallery
Adam Parker Smith, Augusts, 2017, resin, fiberglass, preserved mylar, steel…
~ Milica Puric ~