1709 W Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
noon to 6pm
8 to June 12, 2010
As you pass by and cast an eye as you are
now so once was I
press: Chicago Magazine
| Chicago Tribune
As you pass by and cast an eye as you are now so once was
Rachel Niffenegger will present two sculptures and four paintings
on paper for her exhibition, titled As you pass by and cast an
eye as you are now so once was I. Drawing inspiration from the
title, an ancient epitaph, Niffenegger will covert Gallery 2 into
a hall of heads.
Rachel Niffenegger's disembodied heads, be they in sculpture or
painting, come from a place of physical and psychological unrest,
while also betraying an obsession with gross out humor and fantastical
death scenes. Niffenegger's visceral work walks this tightrope
between the tragic and profane. Her painted heads, born out of
intuitive and surrealist techniques, are as grotesque as they
are intriguing, as they touch upon themes of mutilation and torture,
witchcraft and philosophy. Her three-dimensional work references
traditional sculptural busts. She considers them "sculptures
with painting materials", bound and pressed by hand to fully
realize the texture of the constructed figures and their gnarled
Niffenegger is inspired by the psychic automatism and fumage techniques
of the surrealists. Her use of materials is key. The way she puddles
pigments, and layers mediums is meant to evoke spirits, conjuring
ghostly faces and body parts that are both decomposing and regenerating.
She plies spray paint and smoke for ghostly and ghastly effect;
resin, glue, candle wax and varnish to replicate melting flesh;
and all sorts of random bits like sharp crackled plaster, wood,
sawdust, rolls of butcher paper, glass eyes and found bones for
her monuments of the defeated. Her process is intuitive, physical
and violent, feverishly binding together paper and tape into portraits
and death masks as if in a trance of remembrance. To cover them
in alien slime is to revivify the creation.
This is Rachel Niffenegger's first solo show at Western Exhibitions.
She has been included in exhibitions at Corbett vs. Dempsey, the
Sullivan Galleries at SAIC, The Post Family, and the Hyde Park
Art Center, all in Chicago. Imperfect Articles has featured her
work at VOLTA New York in 2010 and VOLTA 5 Basel in 2009 and she
will be included in a group show at the Ceri Hand Gallery in Liverpool
this summer. New City named her "the best painter under 25"
in Chicago in November 2009 and her work has been discussed in
TimeOut Chicago and Whitehot. Niffenegger lives and works in Chicago.