J Ivcevich (2007)


J Ivcevich

TimeOut Chicago by Josh Tyson (text)

Time Out Chicago / Issue 111: April 12–18, 2007

J Ivcevich
“Sidewalk Soliloquy,” Thomas Robertello, through Apr 21 (see West Loop).

In the same way that a plastic bag stuck to a tree branch can be all at once beautiful and fundamentally troubling, these disarming new works by New York artist J Ivcevich fill us with a sense of hope, dread and timelessness.

Projecting photos of urban scenes onto canvases, Ivcevich paints them in with bold, solid swatches of acrylic color and then adds pronounced defining lines using a pastry syringe. Significantly quieter than his earlier urban works, which are often cluttered and explosive, these works in “Sidewalk Soliloquy” are supremely hushed. Even the loud orange sky in Cotton Corner feels muted, suggesting a dawn or dusk that has become a grand magnet, siphoning the attention of the man on the corner selling cotton candy and another fellow pushing a cart overloaded with clothes. It looks like one of a hundred street corners in Chicago or even Denver, and the anonymity is crystalized by Ivcevich’s omission of lettering on street signs.

In fact, aside from some indecipherable squiggles of graffiti in May Day, there’s not a stick of text in the whole collection. It’s a calculated decision that turns a row of newspaper boxes in Newsworthy into something more like a ragtag battalion of droids, idling against a pale blue sky peppered by a fleet of pigeons. The result is a cooly ironic piece that brings a cartoonish levity to everyday objects generally associated with celebrity bullshit or hypergrim realities.

Similarly, a curbside pile of empty boxes in Produce Refuse looks like a monument to mankind’s near-total removal from the process of hunting and gathering food, delivering a whispered vision of doom. Even more apocalyptic is Demolition Dudes, in which a gang of garbage men with coal blobs for eyes mill about behind a pile of scrap wood, one of them throwing his arms up in a curious Y that looks far more prophetic than welcoming.—Josh Tyson

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