Linda Warren Projects kicks off the summer season with three luminous and illuminating exhibitions by three noteworthy and powerful Chicago-based painters. These artists’ visual languages explore the nature of objects and aesthetics as they relate to popular culture, art history, and our own conciseness. Drawing from humor, cartoons, and irony, each artist borrows imagery that is unique, yet universal, and aims at recollecting memories and identity.
Gallery Y – Chris Uphues, Heavy Sunshine
In “Heavy Sunshine,” Chris Uphues presents a series of new paintings and objects inspired by a complex range of popular cultural references such as: Walt Disney, Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, utilitarian / decorative folk art, as well as the directness of outsider art. Uphues is a painter, street artist, and designer whose visual language incorporates all of the above, yet embodies a style that is uniquely his own. Each of his paintings echoes the chaotic energy of every cartoon, advertising product, and old school video games we’ve all experienced. His densely detailed compositions explode at the seams as form, characters, and objects fall onto one another. A congested world lives within the paintings in which every centimeter of real estate is taken.
As part of the exhibition, Uphues will showcase “Heavy Sunshine,” a substantially impenetrable painting that took him seven years to complete. The mind-bending preciseness of his paintbrush defies logic. With a surface that is flat and a style utilizing characteristics of folk art, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed, Uphues’ paintings and objects link to folk art is their ability to express cultural identity by convening shared community values. In his case, it is the values of a whole generation of products, advertisements, and comics. Uphues’ passion for pop imagery is apparent and feeds his overall practice. His style is approachable and translates across generations. His “incidental graphics” – the smiley faces, hearts, hippie flowers patterns of puffy mushrooms, doe-eyed hearts and melting smiley faces – democratizes the pop references, past and present.
Chris Uphues work has been featured in such venues as Secret Project Robot Gallery in Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Whitney Museum, New York; the Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago; the Illinois State Museum; and the Chicago Cultural Center, amongst many others. Uphues is also the recipient of the Artists Fellowship Award from Illinois Arts Council and the Print Magazine Design Award. The artist received his BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.