International Contemporary Art
No. 71, Fall 2001
By Si Si Penaloza
Art Chicago, Festival Hall, Navy Pier (Closed May 14, 2001)
This year’s international Invitational at Art Chicago featured eighteen innovative contemporary art galleries from around the world, most of which were making their inaugural appearances in the United States. Of these galleries, Luis Campana (Cologne) and Tommy Lund (Copenhagen) presented some of the more spectacular work. As I cruised by Luis Campana on opening night, Heike Kati Barath‘s three massive canvases stopped me in my tracks. In Barath’s overwhelming mixed-media portraits of children with oversize heads, the painter “supersizes” her subject the way popular fast-food chains supersize their meals. The children emerge titanic and bloated, with insignificant placid facial features. In the most arresting of the trio, a girl painted in midnight black wearing a red string bikini looms full-throated, magnificent and strange. She’s a tangled hot jungle, all fuming and humid like a two-ton bumblebee. Barath’s interest in the consumption of images of children is clear; the girl’s stringy black hair and hot red bring to mind licorice bonbons as much as bondage.