A Ghost in the Alley



"Under Ashland Bypass" by Meredith Dytch

At the Coalition Gallery in Wicker Park the current exhibition is entitled Urban Eyes featuring the work of Meredith Dytch and Herwitt. The artists are inspired by the urban landscape, creating paintings that capture divergent scenes. Herwitt focuses on the city at night capturing different cities around the globe. Dytch analyzes the abandoned parts of Chicago, the alleyway, under the L-track or under a bypass.

Dytch is the more competent of the two painters creating almost photographic representations.  Her paintings evoke a ghostliness of the abandoned scenes reminiscent in style of Edward Hopper.  Whereas Hopper focuses on the scenes of domestic life and isolation Dytch is concerned with the urban desolate parts of Chicago where life ceases to exist but the remnants of life remain. Dytch utilizes a muted palette and creates strong compositions using perspective. The angular compositions draw the eye into the picture taking the viewer on a tour of the unseen Chicago. There is also a strong sense of development in her painting style. Her early work is more concerned with detail and textures to the work in mid-career where she is painting in a more abstract style refining her palette in comparison to her later work where she fuses the two with great competence and fluency.

Under the Ashland Bypass I and II are exquisite paintings capturing the detail in the foreground, fading out in the background reminiscent of techniques employed by the French landscape artist Poussin.  Poussin's landscape technique set a precedent for creating a sense of depth within the pictorial frame. Dytch employs these techniques with her palette and fluency of brushwork.


A street scene by Juliette Herwitt

Herwitt's paintings are more cliched representations of the city at night.  Using a stark palette you sense that she is working from a photograph manipulated on Photoshop.  Representing panoramic scenes of Manhattan cabs hovering like bees to collect their business. Her compositions are like tourist paintings especially the skylines of Chicago. It is always apparent when an artist works from a photograph, as the scene often looses the 3-dimensional quality of real life.  However her miniature paintings on paper are more successful capturing the mood of the moment.  My favourite paper painting depicts the corner of a room. The chiaroscuro in this work evokes a haunting quality reminiscent in the work of Dytch and Hopper.

Urban Eyes captures the city we love from different perspectives.  Highlighting the different ways a city can reveal its soul in a painting.

The exhibition is curated by Susan Aurinko and is open until July 17 at Coalition Gallery, 2010 W. Pierce Ave. Gallery Hours: Wed.- Fri. from noon until 7 p.m.; Sat. noon until 5 p.m.; or by appointment at 773.772.2386.



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