Artists

Adam Ekberg

F News Magazine by Britany Salsbury

The Discontented Pendulum
G2 (847 W. Jackson)
through July 14

The Discontented Pendulum, a group show currently on view at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Gallery 2, aims to investigate the disjuncture between adolescence and adulthood and the way in which perception may be affected by such an experience of growth. Although the artists involved—who include Isak Applin, Carl Baratta, Leelee Chan, Adam Ekberg and Sarah Nesbit—use a variety of media, all are united in their particular interest in capturing landscape. In a photograph by Ekberg entitled A bubble rests in the grass, for example, the artist captures a singular bubble in the midst of a field of grass which comes in and out of focus, creating a stark contrast between the textural aspects of the two. The bubble—the kind produced from the plastic bottle soap mixture and wand that most viewers will likely recognize from childhood—is notable for the displacement that results from its viewing; although it is not particularly out of place outdoors, it seems notable in its singularity, isolation, and in the contrast between its reflective smoothness and the rough expanse of grass which surrounds it. In this way, Ekberg’s work invites the viewer to reconsider the sort of perspective often taken for granted as universal.

Sarah Nesbit’s egg on tempera paintings create a similar sense of confusion, evoking both the process and effects of transformation. In Boys Hanging, for example, a building appears in the middle of a sort of void created by abstract, isolated brush strokes. The placement of the building—which might be anything from a house, to a barn, or even a store—refuses to allow the viewer to create any concrete definition for the image. Perhaps most curiously, two figures stand in front of the building, equally static and vague. Although it is clear what Nesbit has painted, her images become Rorschach-esque in their openness to interpretation, in the contrast between the opacity of what they depict against the boundlessness before which they appear. Like Ekberg, Nesbit’s work contains a subtle but undeniable sort of beauty, reminding the viewer of what might be gleaned from reconsideration of a work of art.

Perhaps the best example of such distinctive sort of aesthetics to be found in the exhibition is the work of Leelee Chan, which consists of collage and acrylic on board. Chan’s collages are imaginative rethinkings of the ideologies of landscape; playing primarily upon the horizontality of the genre, her scenes consist of brilliant detail between the simplicity of land and sky. In one untitled work, for example, Chan collages seashell-like objects between two shades of blue. The intricacy of the objects is evocative of photorealism, and because of the degree of their detail, the viewer is compelled to believe that these invented objects exist in reality. The experience of viewing Chan’s work consistently conjures a sense of newness and, like the other works in the exhibition, invites careful reconsideration of perspective. Such works propose a sort of correspondence between the act of looking at a work of art and the process of maturation by presenting both immediacy—in the undeniable beauty of the works in the exhibition—and the rewards of reconsidering that which we may take for granted.

- Britany Salsbury

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