Tuesday, June 30, 2009

TimeOutChicago reviews Carl Hammer show Primal

Until July 22, Columbia College's gallery, Leviton A+D Gallery, is exhibiting works from Midwestern contributors of BLAB! Magazine. One of those artists is C.J. Pyle. I am happy to present here a review by Lauren Weinberg, art critic at TimeOut, of the Carl Hammer show Primal that features C.J. Pyle. I will be putting up a video tour of the gallery and the show Midwestern BLAB! next week. Keep a look out for that.
Art review


Carl Hammer Gallery, through Jul 3.
C.J. Pyle, Sugar, 2008.

Thanks to Carl Hammer Gallery’s emphasis on self-taught and visionary artists, several of the works in the sprawling “Primal: Drawing as the Mirror of Self” explore their makers’ psyches with panache—particularly Joseph Yoakum’s fantastic paintings of places he supposedly visited and devout Christian Stephen Palmer’s lovely, intricately patterned portraits of Mary and Jesus. Other pieces don’t fit the show’s introspective theme so neatly, such as Marc Dennis’s confrontational nudes and George Widener’s depiction of Megalopolis 2012, a bustling city dominated by birdlike airplanes. Still, Widener’s work, which the autistic artist has carefully organized and crammed with details, is fascinating.

The many superlative examples of drawing represent the show’s greatest strength: Three blue-penciled boards by Chris Ware offer insight into the comics artist’s process and poignant stories. In four drawings on album covers, C.J. Pyle calls forth miracles with a ballpoint pen, achieving exquisite shading and gradations of tone in weird, dreadlocked figures (pictured) whose faces appear inside-out, as though their musculature sits on the surface of their skin. Marilyn Murphy’s The Time Jumper and The Lost Glove, two pencil portraits of women shown only from the waist down, combine a luscious, photorealistic aesthetic with surreal hints of feminine anomie.

Yet one of our favorite pieces isn’t a drawing: Cow Girl, an unknown artist’s wood carving, depicts a redhead clad only in a hat, boots and suggestively placed holster. The artist knows exactly what he likes—and there’s something charming about his eagerness to immortalize it.

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