Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gladys Nilsson: Works from 1966–2010 / Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art

Gladys Nilsson. A Little Friendly Game. Watercolor and gouache on paper (2008)

Gladys Nilsson, Hall of Mirrors, 1980-81
acrylic on canvas, Gift of Francis and June Spiezer to the Rockford Art Museum (Illinois)

I neglected to post this a while back-- a short April 12th art review for Newcity of Gladys Nilsson's great retrospective show at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art here in Chicago. It featured paintings from her post-graduate days at SAIC in the 1960s through the present.

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Big Birthday Gladys, 2010.

(April 12, 2010) Noodle arms and legs akimbo, a multitude of figures dance across the walls of the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art (UIMA) in a brightly colored survey of the work of Chicago painter Gladys Nilsson. Organized by the UIMA, in partnership with the Illinois State Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the exhibition coincides with Nilsson’s seventieth birthday in May, and is a joyful celebration of her life and work.

As is indicated by the sheer masses of elongated people crowding her paintings, Nilsson’s work continues to exude a Chicago Imagist style. The Imagists, a loosely defined group of Chicago artists working in the 1960s and 1970s, were often known to have an irreverent focus on the figure, and used imagery culled from advertising, comics and non-Western art. Pointy-nosed women predominate in Nilsson’s paintings, their bodies bending and distorted. The figures are often floating in narrative scenes that are filled with marginalia both familiar and otherworldly, reminiscent of the fantastical paintings of fifteenth-century artist Hieronymus Bosch.

Nilsson’s most recent painting, a large watercolor titled “Big Birthday Gladys,” was created specifically for this exhibition. With an always-present sense of humor, Nilsson depicts herself comically sprawled in the center, complete with drooping décolletage, clutching a slice of cake while surrounded by celebrating people. The horned helmet on her head is a nod to her Swedish ancestry, and a bespectacled man (presumably Jim Nutt, Nilsson’s longtime spouse and fellow Imagist artist) perches on her shoulders while daubing paint on her nose. One small square sketch exists for this painting in a case in the center of the room, displayed amongst a fascinating array of sketchbooks and ephemera selected by Nilsson herself. (Julia V. Hendrickson)

Through May 23 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, 2320 W. Chicago Ave. Conversation with James Yood, and cake, May 14, 5:30pm.

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Etching from 2004, from the Print Research Institute of North Texas.

I'm bummed to have missed the "Cake and Conversation" (would love to hear from anyone who went), but sincerely happy to have work in print that starts off with the word, "noodle".

Nilsson is doing some work this year with Anchor Graphics, which is pretty neat, too.

Gladys Nilsson, working proof of a lithographic print for the FIA Print Society, printed at Anchor Graphics (2010).

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