Chasing Posada: A Macabre Populist in the City | Spudnik Press | Galleries | Chicago Reader
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Untitled serigraph from "Chasing Posada" by Kaz

Untitled serigraph from "Chasing Posada" by Kaz

Courtesy the artist

Chasing Posada: A Macabre Populist in the City 

When: Jan. 17-March 6 2015
The great Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913) is an artist who makes more sense the longer he's in the ground. Posada's iconic images were filled with death's heads. He depicted a world where soldiers, grooms, brides, and politicians alike went about their daily business with their skeletons showing, a world in which future decay was writ on every face. Who better to celebrate in death than the great celebrator of death himself? "Chasing Posada: A Macabre Populist in the City," curated by Ryan Standfest of the Detroit publisher Rotland Press, sets about the task of exhuming the master with an irreverent glee. Some of the more than 20 artists nod politely to their predecessor rather than embracing him: Bill Frick's moldering zombie head has more to do with punk/metal gross-out horror than with Posada's bone-dry humor. Others snuggle up closer in the coffin. Céline Guichard's three figures in traditional dress seem ready to drop with meaty exhaustion. Arnaud Rochard's fine, dexterous lines create a park scene with resting skeletons enjoying the weather—the elegiac prettiness isn't exactly where Posada was coming from, perhaps, but it works nicely as a tribute. The problem with imitating a master is, of course, that you invite comparisons. Kaz's messy comic-book bricolage, with piles of garbage and back-alley degenerates, or Onsmith's collage of grungy city scenes can seem crass and obvious compared to Posada's elegant grotesques. But the show's love of the dead, and therefore of the living, is quintessential Posada. I've no doubt he's grinning in his grave. —Noah Berlatsky

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