Colin Thought It Looked Like a Tunnel

James Powers’s first solo exhibition of mixed-media works provides an in-depth look at a young, promising Chicago artist. Powers deploys a large variety of media—canvas, oil and acrylic paint, charcoal and fabric— and many geometric components, but he uses them sparingly to create lean and elegant abstractions that read as a mix of lyrical landscapes fused with organic structures. Whether Powers works large, as in Fear of Hate of Fear, or small, as in Exercise in Humility, he uses a similar vocabulary and technique. He juxtaposes tidy interlocking grids of rich colors against sweeping curves and fanciful shapes, then places them atop seemingly empty backgrounds. But the backgrounds aren’t what they seem at first glance. Sometimes Powers paints the canvases in two subtly different shades, such as white and beige. Sometimes he overlays sections of the canvas with transparent white fabric that softens the colors, markings and forms underneath but adds additional depth to mostly flat forms. “I enjoy the separation of space and the difference in textures. I like all the different components to stand on their own yet work together. These paintings, I think, represent an evolution in my work. The fabric is a new addition, and it was important because it gave me a tiny bit of space that gives an illusion of depth. But I had to experiment to find a sheer enough fabric that showed the underdrawings enough but also pushed them back in space,” the artist explains. The show continues through April 26 at Klein Art Works, 400 N. Morgan St.—Barbara B. Buchholz, “Spare Yet Convincing,” Chicago Tribune, April 25, 1997




Constant Pressure