By KT Hawbaker
This weekend, Chicago will get a dose of international love as EXPO descends upon Navy Pier. Now in its seventh year, the international art fair invites galleries and collectors from around the world, creating a snow globe of contemporary media, heady aspirations and really good looks. Last year marked the first EXPO of the Trump era — and, boy, did it show in the reactive artwork both conceptual and figurative, including a guillotine at the center of the show. What’s in store this year? If these galleries are any indication, this year’s category is bold color and pattern — elements that stand out in vast darkness and evoke a survivor’s cautious, enduring optimism.
1. Library Street Collective, Detroit We might have almost lost Detroit, but LSC is leading the way in preserving the city’s radical heritage while hoisting up emerging artists directly engaged with the city’s “reimagined” contemporary art scene. Be on the lookout for work from Willie Wayne Smith, whose work channels coloring book pages as a way of seeking catharsis.
2. Beers London, London Focused on the work of William LaChance, the gallery features a scene merging basketball with ecstatic modernism and wobbly geometry.
3. Fridman Gallery, New York City Nathaniel Lewis’ paper sculptures are ethereal depictions of a black masculine body, resulting in an anatomical figure made of whimsical, contradictory patterns.
4. The Hole, New York City Run by Kathy Grayson, the Bowery gallery presents monthly solo and group exhibitions featuring emerging art and thematic group exhibitions. On its roster is Vanessa Prager, whose weighty, sculptural paintings make for high-femme hallucinations loaded with pink.
5. Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago Hometown hero Catherine Edelman brings her enormous roster of multimedia artists to the show, doing the city proud.
6. De Buck Gallery, New York With palettes straight out of a new wave video, Devan Shimoyana’s multimedia — and oh so glittery — canvases tell stories of beauty rituals that transcend gendered norms.
7. Rena Bransten Gallery, San Fransisco What began as a ceramics hub in 1974 has weathered the San Francisco art market and become a multimedia fixture, with gallery patrons and community organizations flocking to Bransten’s space. One big standout: Dawoud Bey’s often haunting yet tender photography is repped by Bransten.
8. Ronchini, London Katsumi Nakai’s playful acrylic on plywood works are brazenly colored puzzles that have no intention of being solved, and their loose precision and round corners speak to a chipper, quick sensibility.
9. Peres Projects, Berlin Ajarb Bernard Ategwa’s boisterous work is crowded, with zany lanes strewn about the canvas as Keith Haring-esque figures gather in community.
10. Tandem Press, Madison, Wis. MASER’s lithographs resemble a retro quilt on acid; their effervescence and chaos is contagious — and well worth getting cozy.