'View From a Side Window'


Take Five by Jill Oehmke

Drawing Attention Exhibition at Tom Robinson's Studio/ Gallery, 2416 West North Ave. closes June 26.

Every Sunday on the Western side of North Ave a group of artists get-together to practice and develop their life drawing techniques.  The exhibition at Tom Robinson's Gallery depicts the groups' work from traditional life drawing to artists who employ a more conceptual approach in the way they utilize the figure in their work.

Jim MacRoberts' is concerned with combining the illusion of the three-dimensional plane with the two-dimensional. He creates comical scenes mixing paintings with wooden sculptures which have a kinetic component.  In one scene a renaissance style angel kinetically mows the lawn in suburban garden.  I am particularly fond of the piece entitled 'Social Order' which depicts a woman strung up as a puppet looking at her reflection in the mirror.  It reminds me of Duchamp's work 'The Given' in terms of exploring the dichotomy of power relations that women face in everyday life.  Jim's painting relies heavily on the use of surrealist imagery depicting symbols that are at times clichéd. But his work evokes important discussions about the passage of time and the acceptance of our own mortality.


Jeune Fille by Laura Coyle

It is a mixed group of professional, mid-career artists and people who just love to spend their weekends drawing. A lot of the work on exhibit demonstrates the raw moments of an artist at work in a life drawing studio.  Laura Coyle's portraiture is reminiscent of Hockney's early watercolours. Tyrue Jones is a local artist who is well known for his stylization of the figure. In this exhibition there is an exquisite pastel drawing where he utilizes tone more successfully than most, in the piece entitled 'Reclined Woman Nude'. The fluidity of tone dynamically represents the figure.  In 'Eros Doppelganger' I flinch at the background being painted after the figure, almost outlining the subject matter.  This technicality is a shame as it detracts from the brilliance of the figure painting and the power of the composition.

Julia Oehmke's work is perhaps the most technically proficient in terms of proportion and her ability to capture detail and likeness. Fletcher Hayes work depicts that of an artist at work, the use of overlap and multiple studies of the figure on the one page using a variety of medium.  His limited palette of flesh tones is highly competent in an acrylic painting of a woman. Both Richard Bloomfield and Colleen Fahey are people who attend for the joy of drawing both should be urged to go larger and experiment with different materials.

My favourite piece in the exhibition is called 'White Box' by Charlie Thorne.  The irony of the depicting a white box in a white cube, within a white cube I think is a brilliant idea, however unintentional. The mastery of draughtsmanship is exceptional aside from the conceptual interpretation of this work.  Thorne is known for his depictions of urban snapshots of Chicago. Compositionally his work is evocative of Hopper's uncanny urban scenes capturing the 'white noise' of real life.  In viewing 'White Box' one feels like one is passing by in a car, view from a side window, and it is that transitory moment that is captured in this intense, meticulous drawing.

If you are a student at Art College or a wanna-be artist this exhibition is a must.  It is a well-known fact that in order to become a great draughtsperson, drawing the figure is at the essence of our practice.  Hats off to Tom Robinson for creating this space in his gallery. This is a wonderful exhibition in terms of exploring the diversity of media in relation to figure drawing. The exhibition is like a living Leonardo Da Vinci sketchbook here in our own pocket of Chicago.

Exhibit is open Saturdays and by appointment. Call 773.477.7913.



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