Western Exhibitions

September 12, 2016, 8:51am

Deb Sokolow’s thoughts on Men

Those unfamiliar with the work of Deb Sokolow (NAP #41, 107, 119) might be surprised to find studio walls plastered with images of Kim Jong-un, conspicuously undetailed renderings of David Copperfield’s brain, paper models of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, as well as diagrams dissecting the psychological motivations of our country’s most notorious politicians. And over the past decade she has found excuses to cook up an impressive collection of home-brewed conspiracy theories that cover everything from subterranean pirate tunnels to coded messages in your McRib. Though while she has earned a reputation for drawing on eclectic source material, the most surprising thing about her work is its ability to synthesize all of it into something that’s not only visually cohesive, but as immediately compelling as anything in the National Enquirer.

Between exhibitions in Washington DC, Indianapolis, as well as New American Painting’s Midwest Edition show and another coming up at Chicago’s Western Exhibitions on September 17th, she has certainly kept herself busy in 2016, making it the perfect time to check and learn a bit more about what goes into her work. – Brad Fiore, Chicago Contributor

Deb Sokolow | Various notes and studies, 2016

Listed under: Interview

July 15, 2015, 8:39am

Space: Edie Fake at Western Exhibitions

The blood is voltaic, salt and copper and life and death, flowing fast and high around the fever dream haemalducts of Edie Fake's The Blood Bank, imbued with a passionate glow which seems to radiate in juxtaposition with the cold, flat surfaces—marble? tile? stone?—which constitute its flowing surface, a room of stately and imposingly beautiful columns and arches, its facade shot through with sharp geometry, like a thousand black shark's teeth on pallid sand, the columns topped with ornate weeping bull's eyes; a dazzling array of colors—rococo patterns formed from tiles the color of salmon and toothpaste, bands of claret and powder blue, jade and bubblegum, lace of electric orange-red—is lost to the eye by the great flowing blood's final destination, a pool fit for a Bathory, its deep center a rich bordeaux, fed by the blood flowing through the veins around the room's ceiling, flowing hot—like lava around the edge of a caldera—hot in color and consequence, biologically and ethically, burning in memory with fear, anger, paranoia, colored the red of passion and hazard both, blood from them, blood begetting panic, the blood of the AIDS crisis, the dread invisible specter preying on the edges, closing the bath houses and haunting the blood banks,  a nightmare, blood a commodity and curse, the mark of Cain and the gift of vigor, forever pouring into Fake's pool, which must be deep, deeper than the sea, to never jump its cold, slick sides, leaving not so much as a patina as its waves lap and stop with a clinical precision, and one stares into the sanguineous abyss, is presented—with disconcerting pulchritude—the horrors of a not-so-distant past, a spiritual kind of hemorrhagic shock. –  B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Edie Fake | The Blood Bank, 2015, ink and gouache on paper, 22 x 30 inches. Photo courtesy of Western Exhibitions

Listed under: Review

January 23, 2014, 3:35pm

Perpendicular Painting: Zoe Nelson at Western Exhibitions

Record collectors are only ever concerned with what track is on the a-side. Not many will pay attention to, or often even know, what exists on the flip of their 45s. An exhibition of Zoe Nelson’s (NAP #95, #107) newest paintings, currently on view at Western Exhibitions, questions the very nature of a “good side.” My go-to reference for Nelson’s work has always been its lyrical qualities – though this exhibition references the history of that trope in painting as much as it does an x-y coordinate system. What better way to reference the spatial placement of the work than through its Cartesian properties? For Nelson, the grid is treated not as a pretext, but as a challenge. Paintings extend off the wall, appearing to fill the visual gap of the wall space left behind it – the sound or harmony within the work, if the exhibition has such an affect, directly plays off their relation to the viewer, as if the exhibition itself is a changing composition, shifting space ever so slightly as the viewer navigates around it.

While Nelson’s past paintings were entirely evocative of Supprematist abstractions, the new work exists more dimensionally, in the round. Favoring a democratization of space – or we could just as easily say the flipside – the “front” or the “back” of her paintings seem to not exist, or be discernable. There is an equality to the treatment of the painting’s entire surface area as an object that speaks to retelling of dated mid-century patterns and ideologies; a history of steadfast modernism unhinged from its context. In line with its audile perspective, the emphatic physical presence of the work maintains a discordant tension – at once occupying space, as it attempts to flatten it. – Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor

Installation photographs by James Prinz. Image courtesy of Western Exhibitions and Zoe Nelson.

Listed under: Review