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“Rhona Hoffman 40 Years: Political”
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen


Brian Maguire, "The Known Dead," 2015, acrylic on canvas, 55 x 78 3/4"

Continuing through February 18, 2017

Rhona Hoffman Gallery celebrates their 40th Anniversary with a series of group exhibitions, and Part 3 in a series of shows focuses on works with political content. Fittingly, the exhibition opened a week before Inauguration Day 2017; though the works here were not made specifically for this occasion, they are important models for reminding the art community how to best use our talents and intellect to deal with an environment that has suddenly become more dangerous and oppressive for so many.

Some of these works hold up a mirror to show us our flaws, as in Brian Maguire’s “The Known Dead”: an image of bodies on the beach, loosely painted and further emphasizing the de-individualization that often occurs during the discourse on immigration. Works like Dawoud Bey’s selection from his series “The Birmingham Project” are an important reminder of the past and how recent that past actually is. Here, Bey photographs a child the age of one who was murdered in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, and an adult the age that child would have been today. Still others provide a viewpoint from outside the biases of written histories, like Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s “Green Card” issued to Christopher Columbus.

Many works in this exhibition address the population at large, while Tania Bruguera’s piece speaks directly to those most likely to be in this room: artists. Bruguera was detained and interrogated in her home country of Cuba (yet again) on the very day of the exhibition’s opening. Her “Artist Manifesto,” on display as a takeaway sheet, explicates many things we take for granted in our field. In a time when tempering one’s political views is so often the key for better art sales, this work is a reminder of our higher calling to dissent.


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