MCA Chicago

December 26, 2013, 10:40am

Falling off the Horizon: Paul Sietsema at the MCA Chicago

How do we prescribe shape to flatness? For the earth, it was a ship. For painting, it was once the illusion of space opening up though the canvas into other worlds, other imaginaries. The preoccupation of rendering the dimensional out of the un-dimensional is one that the conception of pre-modern painting has struggled with from the start. This revolt, against flatness, is more deeply a fascination that centuries of artists and thinkers have since worked to undo. The rejection of depth has historically been the revolutionary voice in overthrowing “truths” in art – the denial of space representing the ultimate mutiny against illusionistic and pictorial ideologies, “changing the system against a utopian promise.” The full potentials of this upheaval are realized in a current exhibition of Paul Sietsema’s work at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

In a stunning survey of paintings, drawings, and films, Sietsema recreates the photographic vernacular in its most spectacular trompe l’oeil representations; never capturing the thing itself, but instead the lens that looks onto the tactile object. Sietsema’s images often reference his own process, imitating the material inherent within the making itself – the folds, wrinkles, and markings of wear on a piece of paper painstakingly rendered on the surface of an ink drawing, the sun stained quality of a Technicolor photograph replicated in washes of de-saturated hues. The stamp of time that occupies Sietsema’s historical, and often archival, encyclopedic subjects is reworked, recontextualized, and eradicated from history – replaced instead by a commonly constructed memory of romantic subjects – sailboats at sea, pages torn out of books, postmarked parcels and traces of transcontinental travel, the paint brush on the canvas itself – a fragile texture that floats on its viewers own image of nostalgia, while opposing any facile or comfortable recognition. Like a film that erases itself as it plays, Sietsema locates a moment between the vanished and the never present – a revolutionary relationship to flatness that can only be imagined as emulating the very first moment the ship fell off the horizon. –Stephanie Cristello, Chicago Contributor

Paul Sietsema | Folded Corner, 2012. © Paul Sietsema. Photo: Ron Amstutz, courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery, New York.

Listed under: Museum Admission, Review

January 14, 2011, 1:51pm

Julie Rodrigues Widholm: A Conversation with the Midwest Competition Juror

Julie Rodrigues Widholm knows her stuff. The Pamela Alper Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary, Chicago (MCA), Widholm has had extensive experience working with emerging contemporary artists, including organizing nearly 30 of the MCA's 12 x 12 shows, an exhibition series of emerging Chicago-based talent.

Listed under: Art World, Behind the Scenes, Q&A

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