CONSCIOUSNESS OF ABSTRACTION: Juror’s Statement.
Open National Juried Exhibition, ARC Gallery, Chicago. < dates, etc. >
With well over 200 artists and 600 images, it is an understatement to say that the selection process for this ambitious exhibition was no light-handed task. Many exceptional, deserving works and artists were excluded. I know that jurors typically say this, to offer consolation and merited encouragement to all the participants but here, it is too true - an unfortunate conflict, I’m afraid, between the number of submissions and a quite sizeable but limited space. Hence, the selection cut-off-point for some, might seem greatly arbitrary.
Limitations aside, however, I was drawn to work that offered something new or different (sometimes subtly different) to our thinking and experience of abstraction, or work that added an original interpretation and expression to otherwise familiar, historical antecedents. I also sought work that reflected some degree of principled consistency or evidence of informed intellectual development and imaginative, expressive maturity. I avoided submissions that appeared to simply appropriate or imitate previous art historical movements or well know artist’s styles.
As for the circumstance of many submissions and limited space, I found an unfair opposition (as is often the case) between works of large scale and those that are small; a conflict between “breadth and “depth”. More small-format works can be included in an exhibition with less impact on available space. Yet “Scale and Context” are just as equal to the substance and content of an artform as say, “color and texture”. Some of the best work submitted was large format but I felt compelled to reduce the number of works by any single “large-format” artists in the interest of greater breadth. Nonetheless, I hope the “Commanding Presence” of the large work in the exhibition, overall, might offer some consolation in the face of a difficult but practical “inclusivity” judgment call. In any case, the range and intelligence of the work submitted gives some cause for enthusiasm in what is otherwise, for me, a dark and uncertain, socio-political landscape.
David Reif, Juror. 2 – 18 - 2020