Orchard/Dirge, Observations on Fraser Taylor’s Null Space

April 24, 2015 · Print This Article

Guest post by Vanessa Gravenor


Fraser Taylor, Black Flowers, 2009-11 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Fraser Taylor, Black Flowers, 2009-11 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Fraser Taylor’s show Orchard/Dirge, on view at Threewalls gallery in Chicago, combines sculptures that suggest states of kinesthesis with drawings and paintings blackened to abject states. When entering the main room, one sees a cluster of metallic rods welded together to form angular shapes. These shapes both recall architectural origins but also clusters of beings: animals in a pack.

Fraser Taylor, Black Flowers, 2009-11 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Fraser Taylor, Black Flowers, 2009-11 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Austere and lustrous, the forms harken (like a hymn) back upon different artistic moments in the 20th century. Reminiscent of Russian Constructivism because of the linear and angular bisection of space, these specific forms in the sculptural installation Black Flowers recall Tatlin’s The Proposed Monument to the Third International. In this way, the work pays homage to the utopian vision of art being linked to political life.

Just as the shapes seem to construct and recall these modernist roots, they also enter into a state of entropy and disintegration by suggesting a Giacometti-style disintegration of the figure. Contextually, Alberto Giacometti was incited by an overexposure to violence after WWI. He embodied a sort of cataract gaze and was concerned with redefining seeing when sight was impossible. Fraser’s context is not post-world-wars but the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and 90’s where he lost many friends to the disease. The exhibition write-up explains that purging of color “spoke of the wider index of loss” that all mass death brings.


Fraser Taylor, Scalloway, Silk-screen on canvas, 2015 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Fraser Taylor, Scalloway, Silk-screen on canvas, 2015 Courtesy of Threewalls.

In the adjacent room, there are banners that match this already precedent visual language. Again, abstract forms and ink turn to figuration. This figuration decisively recalls post-war abstraction because of the reduction of the body to pure expression, the body broken under panoptic watch, and of the individual that becomes part of industrial production.

The connection to William Kentridge seems inevitable especially in Taylor’s handling of the suited form. Kentridge animated videos use the materiality of charcoal to reference the obliterated landscape of South Africa for mining, which references the colonized body. In Kentridge’s work, human figures become landscapes only for the landscape to be erased and blotted out by the figure. There is a shiftless, transcendental character that Taylor’s work shares with Kentridge’s particularly the bannered work most recently completed (2009-11). However, Taylor’s reference is not the black body under colonial or post-colonial Africa but the black body in America. In the sculpture installation Black Flower, on view in the main space, the exhibition write-up explains that the title references African-American painter, trumpeter, and jazz poet Ted Joans who aspired to incite revolution through a manifesto written in 1968. One can see the impact of beat poetry and soul music in the kinetic movements of banners in the project space.

Fraser Taylor, Scalloway, Silk-screen on canvas, 2015 Courtesy of Threewalls.

Fraser Taylor, Scalloway, Silk-screen on canvas, 2015 Courtesy of Threewalls.

The remainder of Taylor’s work is comprised of three large square paintings all featuring a singular large inky mass. This inky mass appears to first be a negative field but shifts to become a birds eye view of a head. In one painting Peculiarities no6, there are several collaged images on the black surface. One image is a line drawing of phalluses, the other a print out of a neck, and another a pinky red color blotch. While the main bodily organ running through the show is the phallus, with some of the sculptures resembling Yayoi Kusama’s white, sterile penile sculptures, the paintings’ negativity suggests theoretical feminine or queer space. In this, I call upon second-wave feminist theory presented by Kristeva expressing how while the space of the feminine is the space of negativity it is also the space of the new. Furthering these theories, third wave feminist author Griselda Pollock describes how the space of the feminine is a radical space for encounter and con-division. Fraser’s work seems to embody a post-colonial third-space between the feminine and the queer that shifts between forms, genders, identities, and landscapes delivering the gazer somewhere inside this void-space of creation.

Fraser Taylor’s Orchard/Dirge is on view until May 23rd, 2015.




Top 5 Weekend Picks!

January 23, 2015 · Print This Article

1. when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail at The Chicago Cultural Center


Work by Alison Ruttan.

The Chicago Cultural Center is located at 78 E. Washington St. Reception Friday, 5:30-7:30pm.

2. Untitled (Just Kidding) at The Logan Center for the Arts


Work by Jesse Malmed.

The Logan Center for the Arts is located at 915 E. 60th St. Screening Friday, 6:30pm.

3. Outreach 1974-1984 at Threewalls


Work by Jaime Davidovich, curated by Daniel Quiles.

Threewalls is located 119 N. Peoria St. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

4. Octavia Carney at Friday Night Wall

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Work by Octavia Carney.

Friday Night Wall is located at 1579 N. Milwaukee Ave. #201. Reception Friday, 7-10pm.

5. Not Here at Fernwey


Work by Drew Peterson, Megan Stroech, Steven Vainberg and Hyounsang Yoo.

Fernwey is located at 916 N. Damen Ave. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

Top 5 Weekend Picks! (12/12-12/14)

December 11, 2014 · Print This Article

1. Ground Floor at Hyde Park Art Center

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Co-curated by Dawoud Bey, Michelle Grabner, Caroline Picard, and Daniel Sauter, Allison Peters Quinn and Kate Lorenz, with work by Evan Baden, Hannah Barco, Greg Browe, Houston Cofield, Maggie Crowley, Barbara Diener, Assaf Evron, Andrew Holmquist, Kelly Lloyd, Jesse Malmed, Esau McGhee, Ben Murray, Celeste Rapone, Kyle Schlie, Tina Tahir, Keijaun Thomas, Daniel Tucker, Ramyar Vala, Julie Weber and Nicole Wilson

Hyde Park Art Center is located at 5020 S. Cornell Ave. Reception Friday, 6-8pm.

2. Orchid at Adds Donna

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Work by Alex Chitty.

Adds Donna is located at 4223 W. Lake St. Reception Sunday, 2-5pm.

3. Double Cherry at Threewalls

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Curated by Katie Vota, Jonathan Kusnerek, Megan Cline, Abbey Muzatko, and Meredith Donnelly.

Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St. Reception Friday, 8-11pm.

4. Hold Together at Johalla Projects

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Work by Lisa Lindvay.

Johalla Projects is located at 1821 W. Hubbard St. Reception Friday, 6-9pm.

5. Effeminaries at Western Exhibitions

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Curated by Matt Morris with work by Cameron Crawford, Danielle Dean, Chris Edwards, Greg Ito, Kacie Lambert and Joel Parsons.

Western Exhibitions is located at 845 W. Washington Blvd. Reception Friday, 5-8pm.

Edition #33

June 23, 2014 · Print This Article

Artist Encourages You to Love HAGS

Why do HAGs have such a bad rap? We don’t know, but we’re glad that Portland-based artist, Jenny Vu has decided to rehabilitate them. Her ongoing series H.A.G.S. (Have a Great Summer) depicts summer and it’s most devout fans at their best and most ridiculous. There will be farmer’s tans.


Vu writes, “Currently i’ve been thinking a lot about SUMMER (duh), being a HAG/becoming a hag/the power of the hag/destroying the negative connotation surrounding the “HAG”.Enjoy!”

Because really, if you’re not on Facebook and the phone while eating watermelon and putting a bird on it, then you’re not doing it right. You can see more of Jenny Vu’s work on her Tumblr.

A Multi-tasking HAG.

Work hard and play hard this summer, art babes!

Get Real or Get Out.

British Artist to Re-imagine Chicago Underground

Vertical Gallery in Ukrainian Village is drilling down with the debut US solo show from Xenz. The London-based graffiti artist has taken a shine to images of Chicago from the 1800’s and early 1900’s and the organized crime that was spawned by the network of subterranean alleyways that were created as the city became more, well, vertical at the turn of the 20th century.

Work by Xenz.

We’re not really sure why a London-er is so keen on the history of Chicago, but he couldn’t have picked a city with richer history to dive into. Xenz’s exhibition is based on the book “The Outfit,” by Gus Russo, in which he describes pre-fire Chicago and its rat-filled underworld.

Grime-y Chicago history? That’s right up our seedy underground prohibition-era alleyway. “Building the Dream” will feature an opening reception with the artist on July 5th from 6-10PM and will run through July 26th. Vertical Gallery is located at 1016 N Western Avenue.

The Weatherman Report

Lianghong Feng, Abstract 45-10, 2010. Oil on canvas, 47 × 39 in.

Ever dreamed of having your own ACRE glow-in-the-dark cup? Dreams can come true!

Give/ Get

We would say that the benefit season is winding down, but with CAC’s Starving Artist photobooth images just hitting Facebook and the 2014 MoCP Fine Print Release party popping off at Untitled tonight, that would be straight up untrue. It’s an artist eat artist world out there guys. Here are some non-party related opportunities to give and get that ca$h and make your art world a better place.

If you’re a fan of What’s the T? (and if not, what are you doing here!?), that pretty much makes you a default fan of ACRE (that glorious artist residency where WTT? was first conceived). But even if you’re not a T fan and you live in Chicago, you’ve probably been privy to no less than a billion* fantastic exhibitions, concerts, screenings, block parties, Halloween shindigs, etc. ACRE gives us all so much throughout the year, now it’s time to reach deep down into your heart wallet, and give back to them.

My video co-stars & 2014 incoming residents, Diana Harper & Danny Giles. Click above to see the real thing.

Check out all the donation prizes and then claim your very own Michael Milano tote bag on ACRE’s HatchFund campaign page. At the very least, watch the HatchFund video and get the added bonus of seeing me awkwardly talk into a camera! (And you thought my B@S podcast interviews were rough.)

If giving money isn’t your thing, why not try to get some? Before you resort to spanging on the street, why not do us all a favor and hit up the Propeller Fund Info Session next Wednesday, July 2nd at Threewalls. If group info sessions are also not your thing (man, so picky!) you can schedule a one-on-one info session with a Threewalls staff member. There’s 50 G’s up for grabs here artists! Don’t sleep!

*Clearly NOT an exaggeration.

Finally! We’re pleased to present a for real ‘Who wore it better?’ Alison Reimus at Gallerista‘s first installment of SOLO @ CIRCA, featuring Reimus’ work OR MZH at the opening of the Whitney Biennial.

Calling all undergrads! Learn more then you ever could at school by interning at LVL3.

Top 5 Weekend Picks! (6/13-6/15)

June 12, 2014 · Print This Article

1. Black Cauliflower at Roots and Culture


Work by Corkey Sinks and Jamie Steele.

Roots and Culture is located at 1034 N. Milwaukee Ave. Reception Saturday, 6-9pm.

2. #BRUTEFORCEFIELD at The Hills Esthetic Center


Work by Christopher Meerdo.

The Hills Esthetic Center is located at 128 N. Campbell Ave. Reception Saturday, 7-11pm.

3. Stephen Reber and Anders Ruhwald at Threewalls


Two solo exhibitions.

Threewalls is located at 119 N. Peoria St. #2C. Reception Sunday, 2-5pm.

4. Sleazy at Kitchen Space


Work by Nicole Pyles.

Kitchen Space is located at 2716 N. Monticello Ave. #1F. Reception Sunday, 1-5pm.

5. Sharing the Stories of the Elders at Chicago Art Department


Work by Cassie Hamrick.

Chicago Art Department is located at 1932 S. Halsted St. Reception Friday, 6-10pm.