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Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago opens exhibitions by Spencer Finch and Judy Ledgerwood
Judy Ledgerwood: Love, Power, Color, 2013. Rhona Hoffman Gallery (installation view).

CHICAGO, IL.- What is the color of the threshold - of that liminal space before day plunges into night? Spencer Finch attempts to answer this question through his most recent body of work created specifically for Study for Disappearance, his fourth solo exhibition at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Each watercolor diptych in this new series individually renders violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red as they appear on objects in his Brooklyn studio. On one side of each diptych, Finch has labeled the swatches of varying hues of a single color according to the object that bears them: “candle,” “brick sample (Baltimore),” and “bull-fighting poster” to name a few. This study is paired with that of the identical collection of objects observed as the colors shift to grayscale with the dimming daylight. Slowing down the viewer’s process of seeing, Finch guides us through the nuances of the fading light and the stages of visual perception. Accompanying the watercolor diptychs is a new light box piece, Color Test 600, comprised of various multicolored squares layered together to create an abstract study of darkness.

The ephemeral light of dusk is a seductive territory for Finch and such fleeting scenarios fuel his artistic process. Artworks such as the light installations West (Sunset in My Motel Room, Monument Valley, January 26, 2007, 5:36 – 6:06 PM) and Dusk (Hudson River Valley, October 30, 2005) have transported the light quality of a specific place during that transitory magic hour to the setting of art galleries and museums worldwide. Once again, for Study for Disappearance, Finch has succeeded in blending scientific method with a poetic sensibility to both record the light and color of the physical world and simultaneously explore the intangible and ethereal essence of a place. This time, Finch generously offers an intimate look at the enchanted and often confidential space of the artist’s studio.

In contrast to Finch’s subtle investigation, Judy Ledgerwood employs color to conjure a primary, visceral sensation in Love, Power, Color, her fourth solo exhibition with Rhona Hoffman Gallery. Ledgerwood presents five new large-scale paintings that border between object and architectural element. Over the past two decades, the Chicago-based artist has challenged traditions of Modernist painting through her use of scale, color, and decorative pattern. In recent years, Ledgerwood extended her practice beyond the canvas with wall paintings, highlighted in her 2011 show Chromatic Patterns for Chicago at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. The new works return to canvas yet disobey the traditional view of paintings as 2-D objects, infusing the gallery with color that expands optically and physically-chromatically.

A visual vibrancy created through specific color combinations, metallic paint, and other optical devices is often grounded with a replicated circular pattern in Ledgerwood’s recent work. Followers will recognize the established structure, but also ascertain transgression of repetition. Crossing Over’s hypnotizing chromatic patterning is interrupted in the canvas’s lower section as the paint protrudes and hues shift.

A heightened palette in this body of work alludes to Ledgerwood’s reflection on color’s social and cultural implications. Two particular influences were a visit to India’s Holi Festival of color and Michael Taussig’s What Color is the Sacred?, an anthropological study of color’s power and Western bias against it as belonging to “uncivilized nations and children” (Goethe). In Weight of the Catch, Ledgerwood chose Persian Rose, Indian Yellow, and Cinnabar Green specifically for the pigments’ ancient roots and complex histories. In this way, with Love, Power, Color the painter folds social-political concerns in to her highly visually-minded practice.

Spencer Finch was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1962. Recent solo exhibitions and commissions include: Following Nature, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN (2013); Painting Air, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, RI (2012); Lunar, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Between the light - and me, Emily Dickinson Museum, Amherst, MA (2011); My Business, With the Cloud, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Between The Moon and The Sea, Frac des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France (2010); and As if the sea should part and show a further sea, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2009). Upcoming museum exhibitions include an off-site project with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA in November 2013, and a new commission for Turner Contemporary, Margate, England in 2014. See complete bio and CV here.

Judy Ledgerwood was born in Brazil, Indiana in 1959 and received her MFA from the School at the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work is represented in public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. She currently serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in Northwestern's Art Theory and Practice Department. Upcoming projects include an exhibition at the Graham Foundation and Chromatic Patterns for the Smart Museum, a site-specific wall installation for the Smart Museum's reception hall, on view Dec 2013-June 2014.

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