More than a year after the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic set in and art fairs around the world canceled their plans for the foreseeable future, Chicago’s EXPO fair is holding its 2021 edition online, rescheduled from the fair’s usual in-person time slot in September. This year’s edition, known as EXPO CHGO ONLINE, gathers presentations from more than 80 U.S. and international galleries showcasing both contemporary upstarts and well-known figures working in painting, sculpture, fiber art, and much more.
In addition to regular gallery programming, the fair also includes a special presentation of ecologically minded works curated by New Orleans Museum of Art curator Katie A. Pfohl, a section dedicated to highlighting solo and two-person exhibitions from galleries 10 years or younger, and a special exhibition section featuring nonprofit institutions and museums. The fair’s online portal opened to the public on Friday, and will run through Monday, April 12th. Here, we look at some of the digital fair’s standout presentations.
Amsterdam-based Rutger Brandt Gallery’s booth is broadly concerned with the spatial possibilities of interiors of all kinds, making for an interesting thematic exploration of what “inside” even means anymore. In his acrylic paintings of empty rooms, the Spanish painter
Carlos Sagrera inserts details both mundane and otherworldly, layering totemic household staples like lamps or bookshelves with flashes of mirage-like color—a wavering green growth on a cluttered desk, a bookshelf seemingly torn away to reveal streaks of metallic purple and yellow. As of the afternoon of Thursday’s preview, all but one of Sagrera’s paintings has sold; only Siurell (2019) is still available, for $11,000.
Johan de Wit’s sculptural works, made of paper, resin, and acrylics, extend Sagrera’s domestic explorations, rendering pillows, vanities, and stacks of books into something resembling monuments. All of De Wit’s works are still available as of this writing, and range in price from $2,000 to $8,700.
Thijs jansen rounds out the gallery’s presentation with a trio of claustrophobic paintings—on offer for figures between $4,500 and $9,000—of elevator interiors, their doors shut, reflecting nothing but a fluorescent sheen. The paintings, all executed in 2020, carry the weight of that hemmed-in year, and make for an excellent knot in the booth’s interior focus.
“What ties these artists together in this particular presentation is the different ways domesticity is translated into art,” Rutger Brandt said. “A subliminal look into everyday life, trying to find meaning by modification of the corporeal.”
April 9, 2021