Elena and Michel Gran | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Elena and Michel Gran 

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The collaborative canvases of Elena and Michel Gran--they describe their process as "symbiotic"--manipulate not just space but time, melding the juxtapositions of objects in Picasso's cubist collages and the airless solemnity of Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin's 18th-century paintings. In The Port, an imaginary landscape on a desktop, a folded newspaper hat is set afloat on a sea of blotter paper; at first this looks like a typical trompe l'oeil scene, its edges set to protrude into the viewer's space, the subject matter about to slide into cloying nostalgia. But the space is disconcertingly shallow, and the objects in it--frayed strings, books and boxes--seem weightless and flattened, painted with soft, brushless strokes in the earthy tones of a dim paneled library. The colors and textures of the late Renaissance press these objects into a false collage--and seem to give us the space to reconsider our own mental image banks. Hollis Taggart, 3 E. Huron, through April 29. Hours are 9 to 6 Monday through Friday and 10 to 5 Saturday; 312-475-9300.


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