Garden Project: Adrian Wong: Oogenesis

In an installation at once humorous and grave, Artist Adrian Wong brings his ongoing engagement with the clown community to The Arts Club of Chicago’s garden. Large-scale, egg-shaped sculptures that feature clown facial designs will populate the space. These works derive from Wong’s in-depth conversations with practitioners of the clowning arts, and his recognition of the complex identities that these performers occupy. 

The origin of this research was a chance encounter with John “Jay-Jay the Clown” Joseph, during the installation of Wong’s 2019 exhibition, Three-Legged Dog, at 4th Ward Project Space in Hyde Park. (Mr. Joseph was hired to provide his services as a professional children’s birthday entertainer.) At the time of their meeting, Joseph was the sitting president of the Midwest Clown Association (2018-2019) and would subsequently be elected for a term as president of the International Shrine Clown Association (2019-2020).

Through Jay-Jay, Wong was introduced to the clown community and was immediately struck by the intersectional identities of many of its participating members. For example, certain clown unions require co-membership in the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS), colloquially known as the Shriners. Many are also military veterans; work in public service; and self-report that their dedication to the art of clowning is a by-product of trauma experienced earlier in their lives. He also discovered that contemporary clowning has a deep relationship to counterculture and radical movements—for example the protest activities of the Situationists, the Yippies, the Insane Clown Posse / Juggalos—and subsequently, Wong has expanded his conversations to other noted clowns such as L.M. Bogad, Hilary Ramsden, and Zoe Young (founding members of the Clandestine  Insurgent Rebel Clown Army—C.I.R.C.A.). 

The present project seeks to engage this community for the purpose of examining the craft of clowning as a means of healing, self-preservation, and reinvention. The title, Oogenesis, describes the biological process of the development of life via an ovum—but metaphorically references the use of eggs, symbols of re-birth, as a traditional method to trademark clowns’ unique facial designs.

 

Adrian Wong was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1980. Originally trained in psychology (MA, Stanford 2003), he began making and exhibiting work in San Francisco while concurrently conducting research in developmental linguistics. He continued his post-graduate studies in sculpture (MFA, Yale 2005). Wong relocated his studio to Hong Kong in 2005, but recently returned to Chicago, where he is an Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited at The Drawing Center (New York), Kuandu Museum (Taipei), Kunsthalle Wien, Kunstmuseum Bern, Kunstverein (Hamburg), Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Seoul), Palazzo Reale (Milan), Saatchi Gallery (London), and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (Rotterdam)—and can be found in public and private collections worldwide, including the 21c Collection (Chicago), DSL Foundation Collection (Paris), K11 Art Foundation (Shanghai), Kadist Foundation (San Francisco), M+ Museum (Hong Kong), Sifang Museum (Nanjing), and Uli Sigg Collection (Lucerne). 

Posted December 19, 2021
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Kamrooz Aram: Privacy, An Exhibition

Kamrooz Aram: Privacy, An Exhibition presents a series of new works that use techniques of abstraction and installation to question false oppositions between painting and sculpture, foreground and background, or public and private space. Aram starts his canvases by mapping their structure with a grid. He then develops botanical motifs inspired by decorative arts like carpets, tiles, or ceramics in response to the grid. In one work, actual ceramic vessels are juxtaposed with painting inside a glassed-in shelf as might be found in a museum, thus turning a painting into a sculpture or a display. 

Aram’s artworks are placed strategically in the space in combination with a variety of decorative elements—drapery, furniture, and wall painting—to draw attention to the ways in which images and objects are prioritized depending upon their relation to each other. Monochrome fields of paint appear on the walls of the gallery, as well as part of individual works, thus leveling the differences between backdrop and fine art. Similarly, the pattern from a household object shifts scale within a mural-sized oil painting. Such relationships remain in flux within the galleries, where the status of each object is never certain.  

Privacy Screen for Public Architecture, 2022, the monumental five-part screen in the West Gallery responds to Nathalia Goncharova’s Spring, 1927/28, a significant painting of similar dimensions in the collection of The Arts Club of Chicago. The functionality of the screen signals Aram’s rumination on notions of privacy and enclosure and how they intersect with modernist, as well as Iranian, domestic architecture. With sculpture, paint, drapery and furniture, the installation entitled Phantom Architect, 2022, fully converts the gallery into an intimate space. Aram’s careful selection and placement of art works and design objects thereby liken the exhibition to the home as a response to the hybrid public/private nature of The Arts Club. 

Kamrooz Aram was born in Shiraz, Iran and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY, USA. Recent exhibitions include: Lives of Forms: Kamrooz Aram and Iman Issa, Z33 House for Contemporary Art, Design and Architecture, Hasselt, Belgium; The New Arabesque, Nature Morte Gallery, New Delhi, India; An Object, A Gesture, A Décor, FLAG Art Foundation, New York; In Memory of the Arabesque, Green Art Gallery, Dubai, UAE; Focus: Kamrooz Aram, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Ancient Blue Ornament, The Atlanta Contemporary; Ornament for Indifferent Architecture, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium.

Posted October 4, 2021
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