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Jason Middlebrook
moniquemeloche, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen

Jason Middlebrook, "9 Ways to Get Your Groove On," 2014, acrylic on Big Leaf Maple, 35 x 27"

Continuing through November 1, 2014

Jason Middlebrook has quite a varied overall practice, addressing the intersection of the natural world and the man-made one with objects, paintings and site-specific installations created from concrete, mosaics, found items and live plants amongst a myriad of other materials. However, the signature examples of his oeuvre (and perhaps the most saleable) are his plank paintings, which comprise his current exhibition, “There is a map in every tree.” Featuring intricate line work of acrylic and spray paint inspired by the grain of the natural wood planks to which the paint is applied, these works not only embody a respect for the organic material, they also engage the history of painting with their frontal orientation and geometric compositions.

The plank paintings are exquisite but ubiquitous, though in this exhibition, the Michigan-born, upstate New York-based artist has pushed this trope to further exaggerate the dichotomy of man’s admiration of nature and the desire to control it. “My First Glass Plank,” as the title suggests, is Middlebrook’s first foray into recreating his plank pieces in stained glass. Though the artist has previously remade these planks with lost-wax cast bronze, “My First Glass Plank” is without even an index of the actual wood, making it a pure facsimile, altogether decorative, alluring and futile.

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