Tuesday, July 28, 2009


jeffery mcnary

Nestled in the trendy West Loop-Fulton Market District is one of the city’s newest delights, Ewa Czeremuszkin’s EC Gallery. Here, where the cool mesh with the seasonal; here, where Oprah works and hosts her tent show, Ms. Czeremuszkin grows her dream. In less than a year she has presented one group and four solo exhibitions of new and mid-career abstract painters. Most happen to be either Polish, like her, or trained at academies in Poland.
Czeremuszkin, a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland, holds a masters degree in painting. The simple elegance of the petite EC Gallery, approximately eighteen-feet square, adjoins her studio, and is “a dream of mine being fulfilled,” she says. “This is my life. As an artist I wanted to promote other artists, given the difficulty of placing in galleries. I have selected those who, in my view, merit an exhibition.” She continues, “I have connections and knowledge of European artists who’ve shown in Europe, but not here. So it’s an opportunity both for them to show in the U.S. and for a U.S. audience to see their work.”
One painter to whom the EC has given voice is the prolific Swiss artist Tadeusz Bilecki. Trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, Poland, his bold colors and large format paintings illuminated the intimate space with just six works. “The Apparition of a Geisha Suite,” with its visibly over-painted, layered compositions of acrylics on translucent polyester and paper, filled and enlivened the walls of the ‘gallery box’ with its vaulted ceiling. “I saw his work as something that was fresh, different. I’d never seen something like that. It is close to my vision for the place,” Czeremuszkin commented.

Currently works by Jola Jastrzab, another Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow alumni, decorate the exposed brick walls of the gallery. Her minimalist-abstracts hold few lines and singular color. They strive to electrify a style of hieroglyphs and allegorical concepts minus the parables that may well define such pieces. Her brush strokes tend to bash the canvas and paper, with such works fitting well, in both style and substance in this hip, up-close engagement.
In its brief tenure on the scene, EC has presented the work of Alina Ignatowsky, photographer Paul Kowalow, and a group show including the work of Beata Garanty, Agata Czeremuszkin (Ewa’s sister), and Czeremuszkin herself, whose ethereal work has clear influences of Rothko and Cy Twombly.

All art Polish, however, is not her mantra. The artist/dealer backs away from the works of radical artist Artur Zmijewski and his current movement in Poland. “When I look at something, as an aesthetic person, I enjoy looking at the latest stuff, but I don’t like sad art, tragedy. Art,” she says, is for people to enjoy. Life is sometimes so sad, people should have something to enjoy.”
Big plans for future exhibits are in the works. “I’m always looking for something new, something international, something not shown in other places,” she added. “And this location is just great for art. It’s close to home,” she laughs. (Jeffery McNary)
EC Gallery

Sunday, July 19, 2009

lions, and tigers, and alex, oh boy!

-jeffery mcnary

Arriving at the Linda Warren Gallery for the exhibit of Alex O’Neal’s Recent Works, one meets the startling, ‘Modern Day Tarzans’, acrylic & collage on canvas. Here are day-glo greens, yellows, and reds on a burnished rust background. There is a lion, a tiger, a large, long, green snake. There are androgynous figures with large breasts and moustaches with wide open mouths taunting, yelling, sticking out their tongues, pledging and promising more just ahead. It’s an outright eschatological festival.

“My work is formally rooted in several years of abstract painting done in the American Southwest”, Mr. O’Neal shares. “Thematically, the dysfunctional community of Mississippi I moved within in the sixties, early seventies, made a deep impression on me.” Going about the exhibition, dense, dusty reds with vivid blues and yellows and occasional twists of glitter thrust those themes outward. One can feel the heat, smell the hot sauce.

‘Superstars of the Delta’, acrylic and collage on canvas, lays out the humor and irony intended. Here an Elizabeth Taylor ‘Cleopatra’ cut out accompanies another chorus of howling faces, ‘militant hippies’, both crying and laughing with tiny black and white cut outs of celebrities of the period spewing from their mouths. There are plenty of wild animals, dead and alive. There are military chevrons with signage encouraging one to ‘Eat more Possum’, warnings that ‘The art world is not our friend’, noting bars to frequent and advertisement of ‘Dirt for Sale.’ The theme is uninterrupted in his ‘Superheroes of the Delta’, an oil pastel on paper, a similar work, as well as in the other twenty one pieces comprising the exhibit.

The vague sharpens in Mr. O’Neal’s ‘Pop Art-izing’. Although inspired by works of Swiss painter, Corbaz, this exhibition finds the artist fast forwarding Bruegle into the 21st century, downshifting and throwing on the brakes in a time before ‘awesome’ and ‘whatever’. The show chastises, mocks, curses, threatens. It is a protestant ‘de profoundis’, which follows you around the room and out of the door and down the street for a long, long time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

oh tadeusz!

-jeffery mcnary
i met tadeusz bilecki at the EC Gallery in chicago's trendy, vibrant, west loop/fulton market district. here the cool mesh with the seasonal. here oprah goes to work and host her tent show. here the narative continues to seek it's tale.
here tadeusz, or 't' as i've grown to call him, hung his 'appariation of a geisha', one of the more dynamic, explosive works i've seen to date.
a prolific artist born in switzerland, 't' prefers large formats, working with metal, paper, ceramics, and fabrics. "The final choice often depends on the means (financial) available", 't' shared. "As most artist, I have dreams of monumental formats, however these dreams are unfulfilled. I like deformation of paper, which under the influence of water gains relief, becomes alive", he added.
needless to say, i was humbled to come upon to come upon tadeusz's notes and his suite of painting's tagged for this writer. as an author, i've grown acustomed to crafting about rather than crafting upon. ergo 'jeffery's ecstasy', is a thrilling, exhilarating ride.
"Oh, Jeffery! He stopped in front of the painting and produced an ecstatic shout. A big: "waouhhhhh" with his lips wide open. Ewa scared a little, not used to so enthusiastic guests. She was rather used to an audience that treat previews as an occasion to eat something and have a drink. Jeffery's enchantment was very special. Extrovert and long-lasting. Lasting for a long a moment. Today, I still see those wide open lips and eyes. I feel like painting this enchantment, but I quickly realised that it has already been> done. Jean-Paul Goud did it with Grace Jones's wide open lips. A few days later, I saw in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a serie of pops' and cardinals' wide open lips by Bacon. No, I can not do it. Everybody would shout that it is a plagiarism. But who knows... who knows, maybe one day I will paint this enchantment on a big sheet of paper (Ewa says, maximum 250 centimeters height) by throwing a great quantity of acrylic painting, superimposed, untrammeled. Untrammeled until this enchantment will seem far, far beyond Aberdeen Street... Oh! Aberdeen! A beautiful street, a beautiful neighbourhood. You only have to pronouce its name to smell the Scottish whisky. I have less and less strength to explain my work. I have less and less pedagogic motivation. I feel less and less invested with a mission as a prophet. But at the same time, nowadays, there are a lot of painters> who write more than they paint. Write more than the critics. A moment after, another one entered. This one stopped shocked. He also had his lips wide open, but his eyes seemed lost. He walked as a lion in its cage from painting to painting. He was amazed. He saw a lot of analogy between the anatomical plates and my paintings, he was a doctor. His enchantment lasts a bit too long and Ewa thought it was a kind of epidemia. Not a Mexican one but Chicago's one. A few days before, I didn't know much about Chicago. Not even that it was as flat as a table. Not even that it is preparing for hosting the Olympic games. Not even that the Art Institute of Chicago is getting bigger with a new wing. Today, I know a lot more. I know that this is a city of “countless amazed persons“. A city where Joan Michell created her work. > -A few days later-> During two and a half days, I stepped in every gallery in Chelsea, New York. Lack of enchantment. A thousands of works, hundreds of artists, but a lack of enchantment. There was only one Picasso (in Gagossian Gallery) and a totally unknown artist to me named Sati Zech. Except those, rather monotony. This was also the opinion of the "local persons" during> previews in New York. Totally lack of open wide lips. Oh! Chicago!> - A few days later again - > I know that in a fews days of stepping, there will be as every year the biggest contemporary art mass in the world:> Art 40 Basel 10-14, June 09. I hope that I will open my lips> wide with enchantment a lot of times. As wide open lips as Jeffery's. Art, art..."

what initially appears overwhelming in t's art soon educates and fascinates with its passion. the EC Gallery, founded by artist curator ewa czeremuszkin, focuses upon the introduction of emerging and mid-career artists. It is characterised by a desire to promote the "most contemporary artists of our time." with the bilecki exhibition, ewa has clearly done so, and perhaps bleached out the flickering sideshows of neighboring galleries with color and thunder.