Tucked into the shadow of Orchestra Hall on Michigan Avenue is one of Chicago’s premier high-end art galleries. Donald Young’s small, accessible space hosts world-renowned artists and, occasionally, complete touring exhibits.
The current exhibition features pieces from Canadian artist Rodney Graham alongside a thoughtful smattering of works by Inigo Manglano-Ovalle, Josiah McElheny, Mark Wallinger, and others.
The most interesting theme explored in the gallery’s twenty or so works is that of stark reality somehow inverted.
Graham’s work “Artist’s Model Posing for ‘The Old Bugler, Among the Fallen, Battle of Beaune-la-Roland, 1870’…” is a photograph taken of a real model posing as a casualty, the photo enormous in size and strongly backlit by an aluminum display box. The unrelenting detail revealed by the display is as much a part of the presentation of the piece as anything in the photo, provoking the question of how far off reality an image would have to be to adequately romanticize war to the degree a similar painting would have done centuries ago. Graham’s forte is using new media to enhance the implications of old messages, to put their contradictions and fallacies to answer in front of a scouring eye.
Likewise, the work by Manglano-Ovalle, “House With Four Columns”, is a trio of photographic images set atop each other with a pained-looking subject set inside them. The spacious area, white walls, and urban feel give the images the indelible mark of luxury, yet distorted as they are, the meaning of such wealth seems the more important question begged.
The space was very easy to walk around and compact enough to see in a reasonable amount of time. Its location, right across from the Art Institute on the most popular footpath of the city, is prime. The exhibition featuring Rodney Graham ends this week, so catch it soon if you plan on it.
Donald Young Gallery
224 S Michigan Ave # 266,
Chicago, IL – (312) 322-3600