pendent ex ea at Autumn Space, Chicago


Dan Devening
pendent ex ea
June 22 – July 17, 2013

Autumn Space is pleased to present pendent ex ea, an exhibition of recent work from Chicago artist Dan Devening. Roughly translated, pendent ex ea means “to hang it out,” a title aptly exposing some new concerns by this artist primarily known for his painting. The exhibition opens on Saturday, June 22, from 6 – 8 pm.

Devening is an artist who has recently devoted significant time curating, exposing and presenting the work of other artists; his new body of work folds many of those precepts into a studio project incorporating paper, collage and installation. Although he describes himself as a die-hard formalist, the show reveals new conceptual strategies using display, attachment and context as frameworks driving the greater statement. The motivation behind this interest suggests an awareness of how the matrix of one’s life — or practice — keeps itself precariously in place while always in full view. It also folds in systems of information exchange like advertising, public signage, emoticons, pop-up ads and every other way messages are communicated. This is acutely evident in the large sculptural array upon which several paper works hang. Like an information kiosk historically found in town centers, the structure is designed to display both sides of each work; the audience moves freely between the structure and at their own pace. The kiosk is a presentation device that clouds our understanding of how we encounter static works. In this case, there are consequences. As one moves through the space, the viewpoint of each panel is interrupted and influenced by other parts of the installation inevitably leading to overlapping and obfuscation. The structure also exposes Devening’s fetishistic interest in how each panel hangs from the structure, as well as how material assembly is a highly considered part of each composition. Thread is used to sew paper to paper; holes perforate surfaces, and clips, staples and paper clips attach material to material. Each device is made declaratively obvious, but also pedestrian and informal, suggesting the potential for quick adjustments. Although an attitude of loose flexibility permeates the show, it’s clear that each decision is calculated and intentional.

Devening’s first solo show in Chicago in several years, pendent ex ea includes a lot that’s familiar from his past work. Line, field, surface, color and spatial anomalies continue to be subjects of interest; in this show that discourse is laid out with much less nuance and subtlety. The push here is for directness and clarity; hanging it out without flourish suggests a new level of relaxed inhibition from this Chicago artist.