Chicago Art Review

Melissa Oresky @ Western Exhibitions by Steve Ruiz
November 2, 2009, 8:32 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Reviews

Last week I wrote a bit about Eric Lebofsky‘s Superfreaks at the smaller of Western Exhibitions two spaces, with the promise of returning to examine the main space and Melissa Oresky‘s A Wildness of Edges. This here is that. To start with, a few weeks before the opening of her two local shows (she also has work at the Gahlberg Gallery‘s On Paper show in Glen Ellyn until November 28th, 2009), Melissa was kind enough to let me visit her studio, giving me a great sneak peek at the mountains of work she’s been putting together over the last year and handing out a cheater’s insight into its generation and content.

Melissa Oresky Studio

L'Atelier de Oresky

The first thought I had on entering Western Exhibitions was a shock at how sparse the display was. Having hosed the Paul Nudd paintings off the walls and sterilized the studio to prevent any more from growing along the base boards, the good people of Western Exhibitions have made here a much more specific install instead. While it may have looked sparse, the way A Wildness of Edges was hung with an intention, giving three dimensions to the three elements present in the work and encouraging the triangulation necessary to see their interaction.

Melissa Oresky, A Wildness of Edges

Melissa Oresky, A Wildness of Edges

Of the eight gridded paintings occupying the north-east corner of the gallery, four pairs of images are shown mixed between the two. Each image has its sister, with the one showing a more specific, voluminous, and solid object within a space, and its pair showing the same object but with its space reversed or extruded, and where the object is creating the space rather than occupying it.

Rock Garden (installation view)

Rock Garden (installation view)

The differences reflect a change of control, with one executed in an intentional manner, with Oresky reigning her materials into specific shapes and exerting full control over her paint; and the second presenting something of the opposite, allowing for the phenomena resulting from transparency, the skittering marks of chance, the self-generating content of material interaction and generally of a more impulsive or intuitive way of painting. As the title Rock Garden for this group might suggest, these two ways of treating a surface are to Oresky a metaphor for gardening, of imposing control over self-describing materials or of loosing those materials to compete freely. While the choices of a painter may not be that different than those of a gardener, the conclusion that the action of paint is as challenging and alive as a plant or a weed is a fun one to consider.


Melissa Oresky, W1, Apatite

So to demonstrate, we’ll have two similar images, like W1, Apatite (above) and W2, Plagioclase (below), operating with the same materials of color and shape, but with each presenting different ways of painting, of presenting a landscape, and of describing space.

Melissa Oresky, W2, Plagioclase

Melissa Oresky, W2, Plagioclase

These pairing connections are important, and can be inferred by their palettes and their titles, but they’re not hung in a way to show this pairing off right away. I like that in hanging the work, Oresky apparently deferred to the overall aesthetic impact of the group rather than sacrifice looks to shore up the activity between them.

Melissa Oresky, Mineral Tree

Melissa Oresky, Mineral Tree

On the far side of the gallery, tying together the elements in the Rock Garden series and reflecting them back, is Mineral Tree. The larger painting is the most individually impressive piece in the show, a best example of the collision of shapes and colors that result from Oresky’s processes, and a solid work that balances the exhibition’s display. Containing bits and pieces of each of the Rock Garden paintings, it operates as a third corner to the work, letting the any given painting bounce both to its pair as well as its place in Mineral Tree.

Melissa Oresky, Y2, Orpiment

Melissa Oresky, Y2, Orpiment

There is little to complain about as far as the execution of A Wildness of Edges. The concepts and intentions behind the work are present, the manner of display did nothing to distract from them and actually gave strength to the purpose of the work, and the paintings themselves were well made and beautiful. If there is fault, its the second edge of its success. The well planned, self-imposed parameters to which Oresky kept and which allowed for the show’s success as a structure of self reference may have ultimately prevented any accident of inspiration which may have extended it into something unknown and more. As it is, A Wildness of Edges is a very well executed show of specific proportions.

I give it a:


Melissa Oresky‘s A Wildness of Edges opened October 16th, 2009 and runs through November 14th, 2009 @ Western Exhibitions, 119 N. Peoria.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

good job, chappy!

Comment by Scott Speh

You’re welcome! I assume the checks are in the mail.

Comment by Steve Kush Ruiz

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