Light Up and Be Wonderful! | Western Exhibitions | Galleries | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
click to enlarge baratta1.jpg
When: Oct. 17-Nov. 15 2008
Like a bad acid flashback with a clip-art theme, Imagist Day-Glo obscenities continue to haunt the graphic style of Chicago artists. Carl Baratta—whose new one-man show is called "Light Up and Be Wonderful!"—reflects the gleeful ethno-kitsch of that bygone movement, too, but his work stands out for avoiding its jam-packed composition and fussy details. Baratta’s paintings integrate fantastic mythical figures into colorful landscapes with no consistent orientation, like a magical expressionist map. While the figures suggest superhero-inspired riffs on Henry Darger’s epic outsider drawings, the flattened environments remind me most immediately of the pattern-on-pattern "dot paintings" by Australian aboriginal masters such as Clifford Possum, which juxtapose real space with landmarks of a spiritual dimension called "the dreaming." If there are reasons to be optimistic about the future of Chicago painting, Carl Baratta’s one of them. —Bert Stabler

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