In her third solo exhibition at Corbett vs. Dempsey, Gina Litherland unveils an exemplary group of oil paintings, continuing in a magic realist vein, but introducing new and unexpected elements. Several of the works are larger in scale, still incredibly detailed and masterfully executed, but covering an expanse that allows for an intensification of the narrative component. In The Floppy Boot Stomp (For Don Van Vliet), for instance, the complex scene finds an upside down female fiddler floating over a burning boot in a cornfield, a farmer racing to the conflagration, where a goat with a human face (and a Beefheart-esque beard) glows in the light of the flame. Continuously inspired by literature, Litherland composes with great specificity, sometimes, as in the case of the title painting, The Reason for the Unreason, incorporating text directly into the work. Her painting Don Juan in the Underworld, inspired by Charles Baudelaire, features a boatman with a contemporary white t-shirt and tattoos, while ghostly women peer at Don Juan in the back of the boat, blade at rest, looking pensive, reflective.
A 28-page, full-color catalog accompanies the exhibition, featuring an extensive essay by Uruguayan writer Natalia Font.
In the West Wing, Corbett vs. Dempsey presents two venerable figures in the history of Midwestern surrealism: Gertrude Abercrombie and Julia Thecla. Abercrombie is perhaps the best known painter in this mode, having issued legions of brilliant small paintings from her home studio in Hyde Park from the 1930s until her death in 1977. Classic Abercrombies are often set in the flat Illinois landscape, with spare trees and lonely buildings and an occasional figure. In this presentation, an exceptional early work, Head on a Plate (1936), features a black cat and a self-portrait, decapitated and, per title, head served on a platter. More obscure but no less ferociously inventive, Thecla was genuinely odd, and her paintings reflect her wonderful, weird take on the world, which includes animated satellites arrayed in galactic clusters and bizarre creatures cavorting playfully. Included will be one of Thecla's rare fumage paintings, which utilizes candle soot as a ground for the figures.
Both exhibitions open Friday, May 17th, with a reception from 5:00-8:00pm, and run through June 22nd, 2013.
Corbett vs. Dempsey 1120 N. Ashland Ave. 3rd Floor Chicago, IL 60622 773-278-1664 Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 5 pm & by appointment