The halls are set at Navy Pier for this year’s EXPO Chicago: the annual world showcase of contemporary art from galleries around the globe. The 2017 lineup hosts 135 galleries representing 25 countries and 58 cities, with locations ranging from New York to Seoul, representing renowned artists such as Sally Mann and Takashi Murakami. The artworks are arranged in a maze (there are so many twists and turns, you’ll get lost—in a good way) of classy gallery popup sections, presenting paintings, sculptures, furnishings, and avant-garde-y installations that seem to invent categories in and of themselves.
Though each work in the exhibition has its own unique signature, there definitely exist some noticeable trends this year, most noticeably, the glimmering presence of gold: gold embellishment, gold paint, gold cloth, gold words, gold leaf, you name it. There are the large-scale photographs of Matthew Brandt (represented by Praz-Delavallade gallery, Paris/Los Angeles), laboriously layered in silver-gold prints of cities superimposed with nature scenes. Loris Cecchini’s neuronic golden sculpture (see right) clings to the walls of the Diana Lowenstein Gallery (Miami). The ink/oil pantings of Whitney Bedford (Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago) feature intricate renderings of golden plants and trees (see below). Clay Apenouvon‘s work (Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle) stretches black plastic film across square frames, precious sections of gold glistening between reels (see below). An inkjet print by David Kramer (Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris) dons the words “…SOLID GOLD.SOLID GOLD. REPEAT UNTIL IT’S TRUE. LIVING THE DREAM.” across a shiny photo image of gold bars. The gold glows on, down any hall you turn. Something is clearly present on our current universal conscience, and it’s gleaming from LA to Amsterdam. A preoccupation with the shine? Its nod to wealth? To value? To the cherishing of precious things? Whatever this golden fixation may be ascribed to, the weight of its value is certainly present in the global collective.
Although many of the works share commonality, each still holds unique signature, with no one work quite like another. Even if this year’s apparent gilding nods to a collective thesis, each piece containing any hint of gold, small or grand, iterates its own interpretation. With that, the exhibition offers an ongoing spectrum of work types and tastes. Shining and subvertive, ornate and simple, inventive and universal, EXPO has it all. It’s a trove of treasures to explore, and a world to enjoy getting lost in.
EXPO Chicago shows at Navy Pier’s Festival Hall, 600 E Grand Ave, from Thursday, September 14th to Sunday, September 17th. Exhibition hours are 11am-7pm Thursday-Saturday, and 11am-6pm Sunday. Individual tickets start at $20 can be purchased online or at the door. Visit EXPO’S website for more information, including a full list of this year’s exhibitors.