I See How You See Me
Dates: January 5th through February 27th, 2018
Opening/Artist Talk: January 12th 6-9pm
Artists: Corinna Button, Max Sansing, Su Yang
The new old trend: stereotype as shorthand for everything we don’t know or understand about “the other.” This is the reissued verbal currency in increased use today. And isn’t it reassuring when stereotypes prove true? It feels so good to be right. Further, making assumptions and drawing conclusions without factual information is a time-saver. Why bother investigating when your opinion of someone is already cemented in your mind—based upon your experience, of course, not theirs. And what if some of the “stereotypes” are actually true? Does that prevent a person from having an authentic story? The work of Su Yang, Max Sansing, and Corinna Button provide us with a reassuring response: three artists; three distinct voices; three bodies of work that will force us to abandon the stereotypes.
Was she a math major? Did she study the violin? She probably got straight A’s in school. Obviously a hard worker. Su Yang is well-versed in the assumptions attached to being a Chinese-American woman. She is familiar with the expectations audiences have of what her creative output will be. Yang’s engagement with ink may have started with traditional Chinese calligraphy, but she moves far beyond in her exploration of abstraction and identity. This collection of portraiture reflects Yang’s combined influence of Eastern and Western arts. It is not difficult to see reflections of Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 16th c. Mannerist portraits with fruit, or the energy of Jackson Pollock’s action painting in her ink and watercolor. Yang admits that her Chinese colleagues initially chided her for choosing to move away from the traditional Chinese ink practice. “But I wanted to begin to test the limits of working with traditional ink and brushes. I wanted to create something more modern, to emphasize that I am not a traditional artist. I am a contemporary artist, painting for today.” Yang’s expressionistic portraits are replete with shards of calligraphic characters, puddled onto the Yupo paper she frequently prefers. “I can get Yupo in large sizes and it holds the ink really well. It’s also very strong, so I can be really physical when I make my paintings.” Because her work requires such exertion, Yang says it reflects the mood she is in at the time she paints it. “You can see the emotion in the marks I make on the paper, sometimes gentle, but sometimes very violent.” The immediacy of Yang’s work explains why it is included in prestigious private collections across the US and Asia. Yang was born in Chengdu, China, and is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
You want him to be a player, a rapper, a dealer, a homeboy. You expect his speaking skills are lacking. You wonder if he was raised in a single parent home. But Max Sansing creates art that disrupts stereotypes with simple truths. Yes, Sansing grew up on the south side of Chicago, a place with a long list of maladies, but, also a place of manifest inspiration. If graffiti and wall murals were what was available to a young African American man whose passion was painting, that was where Sansing was determined to excel. His public art placed him in constant dialogue with his community and ignited his activism, resulting in his current collection. Sansing gathered retired and makeshift basketball backboards from around Chicago and used them to reflect where he came from, while also responding to the municipal decision to remove basketball hoops from various locations, leaving young people with one less outlet for recreation. One of the backboards portrays a former community activist who became president of the US; another features a child convinced that her life will follow the trajectory of a well-launched paper airplane. Sansing’s oil paintings are a celebration of saturated color, with figures convincingly rendered, in the style of the Old Masters Sansing so admires. Sansing’s murals can be seen across the US, images lifting ordinary people into a space where skin color is no longer a constraint, where abandoned buildings are replaced with bonsai trees, and the human figure merges and morphs, dreamlike, into the improbable. Because of the impact of his images, Sansing has been a frequent collaborator with Nike and is also a protégé of artist Hebru Brantley. We are thrilled that his oil paintings are now finding their way into prestigious Chicago collections as well. Both of Sansing’s parents were artists, so it is no surprise that he also chose to study and practice painting.
Love the English accent. You might conclude she’s rather snobbish, but always proper. It’s not difficult to imagine she takes tea every day. She’s probably obsessed with the royal family. What you won’t expect of Corinna Button is how consummately she knows her way around a printing press; the massive, space-eating, 1000-pound kind. Aggressively creative, Button manipulates and re-manipulates her images to give them a character and depth of field difficult to achieve in 2-dimensional art, before laboriously forcing them through the press, often more than once. “I compose figures either in groupings, or as a single figure, or just a face. May aim is not to create exact likenesses, but rather to create prototypical or archetypal figures whose personality or identity is both partly exposed and partly hidden beneath the surface. Everything about the way I work (both technique and subject) is motivated by the desire to reveal or “bring something to light.” Thus, my process involves layering, then scraping back, building, then excavating; in other words, peeling back layers to “carve out” and reveal something hidden beneath the surface.” Her output includes etching, drypoint, painting, collography, monotypes, linocuts, as much experimentation as a printer can achieve. Being up to her elbows in ink and plaster is a common occurrence in Button’s studio. There is nothing refined about her passion for producing gritty, muscular images of women which have nothing and everything to do with beauty. Button has degrees in painting and printmaking from the UK. Her work can be found in collections throughout the US and the UK. Button recently had pieces acquired by the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford) and the Victoria and Albert (London) for their permanent collections.
" I see How You See Me” previews January 5th and runs through February 27th, 2018. Opening reception is Friday, January 12th, 6-9pm, with an artists’ talk at 7pm. Bites and beverages always served. Gallery 19 is located at 4839 N. Damen Ave. 773-420-8071.