Only for a Frill: A Evaluate of Hannah Levy on the Arts Membership of Chicago

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Set up view on the Arts Membership of Chicago, “Hannah Levy: Surplus Rigidity” / Picture: Michael Tropea

Artist Hannah Levy’s newest suite of nickel-plated metal and silicone-swathed skin-and-bone sculptures profit from their present location in Chicago’s Arts Membership. The modern galleries, designed by John Vinci within the late nineties, embody the enduring legacy of Bauhaus sensibilities in Chicago and pay homage to the previous membership interiors designed in 1951 by German American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe . The grid and grout of the Arts Membership’s black terrazzo tile flooring, Levi’s sculptures pierce the parameters of a modernist aesthetic by which materials constraints and utilitarian wishes evoke measured class. Within the Missian adage, “Come is Extra”, Levi’s work boldly attracts on the analogy of the surplus embodied via moderation.

Set up view on the Arts Membership of Chicago, “Hannah Levy: Surplus Rigidity” / Picture: Michael Tropea

Levi’s Mannequin Restriction via restrained engagement. Borrowing from the language of boudoir style, her shiny tubing—easily bent into the form of accent items, fixtures and equipment—seems lacquered and shapewear in beige and blush pores and skin. Composed of a skeletal armature that is not in contrast to the underwire, the arched rods of steels and bulbous joints skim, squeeze, and stretch on the silicone shell. Resembling a chandelier in ceiling-hanging work, a fleshy bodice wraps round 5 curved metal rods – their palate-like suggestions pulled like garter straps on the circumference of the corset. Throughout the gallery, three pairs of heeled stilts take after strappy sandals and stiletto designs, with pousse translucent bands wrapped round modern metallic soles.

And but, Levi’s steel-tube instruments do not transcend mere suggestion. Someplace between the physique and the bottom, his sculptures stand as pure assist. Much like structural scaffolds, they pose and hop on, able to seize somebody, or one thing, of their spinous clutches. Outwardly seductive, these units tempt you, tease you and dare you to take the bait. Nevertheless, Levi’s sculptures are essentially detached to the viewers. Reserved, self-absorbed and mirrored within the high-gloss gallery flooring, they hunt inward, partaking with the charming drama of type kissing.

Transferring in direction of anthropomorphic, Levi’s work mimics the floor of the reptilian dermis, adopting the form of the bones of birds and bats, and conveys the curve of the hip or foot arch via unfavorable house. Regardless of these natural traits—in step with the glowing impulses of Surrealism and Jugendstil’s Willowy ornamentation—Levy’s sculpture leans extra towards critic Lucy Lippard’s 1966 idea of “eccentric abstraction”, by which type is embodied via its sensual objectivity. A type is a type and nothing else.

Naturally, equipment are objects of extra – their type is commonly adopted by their lack of operate. Levi distorts the language of ornamentation, presenting solely what’s left. Like ornamental relics faraway from the context of the physique or interiors, his sculptures do extra with much less. (Alexandra Drexelius)

“Hannah Levy: Surplus Rigidity” is on view at Chicago’s Arts Membership, 201 East Ontario, via January 29.

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