Chicago Art Review

Kim Piotrowski @ 65GRAND by Steve Ruiz
January 10, 2010, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Openings

While a bubbling zeitgeist, published theory, secret CIA promotion, institutional propping, market hype and bar booth collectives may be the most commonly understood forces by which art trends and made and made to move, one of my favorite and too often overlooked components of progress is the availability of new materials, and of how their introduction leads to new angles on of art-making. Whenever artists get their hands on something new, there are inevitably those who are able to take advantage of its particulars and create something really excellent, be it tubed oil paint enabling plein air impressionism or the Portapak putting video art in gear. In our own last few years, synthetic papers like Yupo have gradually move into use as a material in fine art, and its been interesting to watch the paper’s beautiful and unique way of supporting paint experimented and capitalized on. If you haven’t played with synthetic paper yet, give it a try and see what it can do. Chicago’s own Kim Piotrowski certainly did, and in the latest show Crowns at 65GRAND, her wildly dynamic work proves it beyond craft novelty as a medium perfect for a renewed formal celebration of paint.

Kim Piotrowski, Ages Spent

Kim Piotrowski, Ages Spent

Like any good artwork based on randomly discovered jpegs, the work isn’t so much representation as liberal dramatization; based on a true story, but barely. While each here painting centers on an image of a crown, pulled of course from the great digital image void, Piotrowski appears to use the crown less as its sign than as a formal skeleton for fleshing out in paint. Attachments of power and opulence are put to work as rich color pools and gold leaf applications, turrets and plumes opportunities for gesture and splash.

Kim Piotrowski, She King

Kim Piotrowski, She King

With so many materials at play, viewing the work is an experience wrapped in trying to pick out the individual media and techniques in each painting. To its credit, the ability of Piotrowski’s synthetic paper to grip liquid materials without absorbing them made this all the more interesting, with wet pools of acrylic ink laid down without a weave to work into drying to look like something entirely different, more similar to the drawn media around it. Even with a materials list on hand, picking the enamel from the flashe from the gouache from the collage is a fun optical challenge.

Kim Piotrowski, Twirl Fool

Kim Piotrowski, Twirl Fool

If you’d like to try to pick them out yourself, the above image is composed of:  acrylic ink, flashe, gouache, permanent marker and gold leaf.

Kim Piotrowski, Crowns @ 65GRAND

I really enjoyed Crowns. The last few good painting shows I’ve seen in Chicago have shown various way of dealing with the problem of imagery in painting while being uncomfortable without giving it up, eventually arriving at a kind of formal content by way of representation. While the subject matter relationship between the image and the painting has been far more stretched and abraded by other painters, Piotrowski’s Crowns could be looked at as a part of this conversation too, translating the elegance and power from the sign source of its images into painted materiality.

I give it an:


Kim Piotrowski‘s Crowns opened Friday, January 8th and runs through February 13th @ 65GRAND, 1378 W. Grand Ave (entrance on Noble St).

(special thanks to the artist and Anni Holm for photos)


1 Comment so far
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Interesting article, but very poorly edited. I stopped reading after the 6th grammatical error.
It undermines everything you say when you can’t say it well.

Comment by Michael Donovan

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