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Check Out Highlights From Chicago's Premier Art Fair

By Carrie McGath in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 26, 2016 5:54PM

The fifth annual Expo Chicago ended on Sunday after an impressive weekend of artwork, installations, performances and panels provided a fascinating look at the international arts landscape. Expo roots Chicago firmly onto the global stage of contemporary art, and this weekend’s fair ably illustrated that position. There was a bounty of highlights; here are just a few.

Catherine Edelman Gallery - Chicago, IL:
Chicago’s premier gallery focusing on contemporary photography hit it on the head yet again this year. From the whimsical and surreal landscapes of Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison to the documentary work of Sandro Miller in his series of American bikers and Jan Kaesbach's chronicle of working folks in the People of the 21st Century series, this gallery once again had one of the most poignantly curated booths of Expo.

Weinstein Gallery - Minneapolis, MN: Curation with an eye toward potent imagery and diverse-use media made this booth stand out. Pleasing and intense in the chromogenic print, The Absorbed Tradition, by Erik Madigan Heck and Alec Soth’s Sari, Park Hyatt, Tokyo navigate brightness alongside the poetic watercolor and ink work by David Rathman, All the Big Dreams are Taken, one of our favorite works in all of Expo.

Salon 94 - New York, NY: Heavy hitters like Lorna Simpson and Laurie Simmons gave Salon 94 a definite edge as it showcased a decidedly assured representation of today’s most important contemporary artists. Like the strongest of the booths at Expo, Salon 94 put forth a variety of media and representations.

Half Gallery - New York, NY: Expo always has a great selection of emerging galleries in their Exposure series, which spotlights 26 newer exhibitors. Half Gallery was undoubtedly one of the strongest, especially with the work of Genieve Figgis. Her blurry-faced subjects, posited amid textured backdrops, harkened to Francis Bacon and Edvard Munch. Figgis’ exploration of feminine mystique, deep social commentary and art-historical musings were among the best moments of Expo.

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) - Chicago, IL: With a myriad of work from 25 students selected by SAIC alumn, artist and curator Edra Soto, this booth nailed the mission of Expo’s Special Exhibitions program. Celebrating international work and its significance within cultural institutions and non-profit organizations, the work of SAIC students solidified the school’s reputation as one of the top art schools in the country.

The Renaissance Society - Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago’s space is a consistently groundbreaking gallery, showcasing experimental work like that of Rodney Graham. Expo exhibited works on paper as an archive documenting the sketches from School of Velocity, Parsifal, which relate to the artist’s fascinating musical installations from the gallery’s 1995 exhibition.

KÖNIG GALERIE - Berlin, Germany: Part of Expo Video, Camille Henrot’s "Dying Living Woman" from 2005 stood as an absolute highlight of the multi-media wing of Expo. A deeply poetic mixture of illustration and real-life actors, the video contemplates life, death and how we navigate them. Its black-and-white starkness adds a surreality to the work, beckoning the static-woven film of Luis Buñuel.

Expo Chicago 2016 also set the stage for an autumn and winter season of art throughout the city. Many openings will continue the creative vibration Expo unleashed, continuing to give Chicago art lovers and novices the chance to engage the international cultural landscape.