Chicago Art Review

Netherland / Chad Kouri @ Rotofugi by Steve Ruiz
January 12, 2010, 12:43 am
Filed under: Chicago, Reviews

Despite their sharp cornered, faux-wood and steel physicality, there’s an undeniable comfort and familiarity to old school stereo equipment. Like a good tube amp or a vinyl record, they suggest a warmth of sound and barely retro aesthetic which brings invisible music closer to something tangible, simple, less scary, especially compared to the layered and compounded mysteries of an iPhone. This basic theme – more nostalgic than Luddite – is at the heart of the two solo exhibitions at Rotofugi this month, Chad Kouri‘s Concoction and Rotofugi gallery curator David “” van Alphen’s In Stereo.

Netherland, In Stereo @ Rotofugi

Netherland, Miss November

Netherland’s works are photos of analog electronics and stereo equipment cut out and collaged on a new surfaces (often replacing a figure’s head) and sometimes painted on with retro rainbows. The style is spot on, the presentation is clean, but while some sculptural renditions of the stereo-head people are a nice deviation, every piece is really only a variation of the one before it. They’re cool little objects though, and look comfortable being as much.

Netherland, In Stereo @ Rotofugi

Netherland, In Stereo @ Rotofugi

While the material shows more variation and holds the embedded content of found stuff, Kouri’s Concoction is pretty much the same story of formulaic composition. His collages, clips from a desaturated halftone Mad Men world of cigarette advertisements and happy white Americana, are put together like floral arrangements, lovingly built of appreciated materials. Kouri’s eye for design is clear, and his compositions and faded-paper color selections are rock solid.

Chad Kouri, Concoction @ Rotofugi

Chad Kouri, Tossin' That Dot With A Bangin' Speedo

Like Netherland’s side of the gallery, there’s a ton of work in Concoction, the most interesting of which to me were a few small, framed, but otherwise unmodified pieces of found paper. Despite the cool compositions Kouri makes in other works, whatever content Kouri adds by way of collage is really secondary to the built-in content of his materials themselves, their age and function, lost and unknown. Though perhaps included as an afterthought, I’d call these little guys the most intimate and expressive of the artist’s interest  in printable media.

Chad Kouri, Concoction @ Rotofugi

Chad Kouri, Concoction @ Rotofugi

There’s a lot to look at in both In Stereo and Concoction, and almost all of it looks great. While it isn’t a heavy show on the head, don’t let the formulaic appearance of so much work prevent you from appreciating the details and decisions on the surface, especially in Concoction‘s collaged clusters. As Kouri suggests, in a big framed printed letters flanking the cluster of work shown above, slow down – perhaps as much the moral of the show as an instruction to viewers.

I give the whole thing a:


David “” van Alphen’s In Stereo and Chad Kouri‘s Concoction opened Friday, January 8th and run through January 24th, 2010 @ Rotofugi, 1953-55 W. Chicago Ave.

(special thanks to Anni Holm for the photos)


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Thanks for the feedback Steve. Appreciate every word of it.

Comment by Chad Kouri

Nice, thoughtful review…come back anytime!

Comment by Kirby

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