Material Objectivity

Friday, January 11, 2019 - 7:00pm to 10:00pm

Baby Blue Gallery – 2201 S. Halsted, Chicago, IL 60608

Material Objectivity

Dates – January 11th - February 2nd

Opening – January 11th, 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

**Gallery hours are by appointment only please email to schedule an appointment

Artists - Cindy Bernhard, David Downs, Boris Ostrerov, and Erin Smego

Websites - / / /

Show Description
Artists Cindy Bernhard, David Downs, Boris Ostrerov, and Erin Smego explore varied ways of expanded painting. By transgressing a painting’s conventional parameters of the flat rectangular surface, the artists use paint not to create illusion, but to bring the material into the space of the viewer. Each apply paint or fabric to materials long used in creating painting surfaces (stretchers/panels) albeit in an innovative way – making paint rest on flat substrates, protrude from the surface material, and use unconventional shapes as supports. While engaging in several forms of mark making, tactility, and physical depth, each artist’s work explores individual themes and ideas with their materials as they reference historical traditions and social constructs. In an age where much of art viewing is seen through compressed jpegs, these ‘painted sculptures’ yearn for adequate embodied viewing which only an exhibition space can provide.

Cindy Bernhard utilizes pastry tools to playfully celebrate femininity and sexuality. Piles of oil paint transform into faux decorative icing creating immediate seduction and excess. Through this mode of application, paint and object become one in the same, announcing a physical presence which rivals sculpture. This hybridity of signs and practice allows her to re-contextualize the use of traditionally domestic tools with snippets that are often tongue-in-cheek.

David Downs references the death of Jackson Pollock, relating it to David’s own sudden change from painting nonobjective abstraction to creating something more representational. The work titled, “We Can Survive This” is constructed of elements that traditionally make up an oil painted canvas, yet he pushes those boundaries into a three-dimensional sculpture. 

Boris Ostrerov’s squeezing and stacking, as well as the natural stretching and falling of the oil paint recalls bodily excretions, libidinal energy, and excess. The substrates he prepares defy convention; often taking the form of shelves that either lay flat on the wall or protrude deep into the viewer’s space. Together, with the stacking and layering of the paint Boris references the history of painting while pushing its fundamentals to bizarre extremes.

Erin Smego’s sculptures and installations use deconstructed fabrics from consumer fashion goods to reference contemporary culture. The soft, flexible, or stretchy properties of the materials she sources is forced into sharp angular geometric forms built of wood beams and other hardware. Light and space are taken into consideration through shadow play and colorful reflection or refraction within the space the sculptures inhabit. 


Cindy Bernhard is a painter living and working in Chicago.  Her recent paintings explore the malleability of oil paint through the utilization of pastry tools as a means of mark making.  Currently she is a faculty member at The American Academy of Art in Chicago where she teaches drawing and painting. In addition to teaching she is the schools gallery director and visiting artist coordinator. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Greece, Lebanon, etc.  She has curated multiple exhibitions in Chicago and co-founded JNFA Studies, an interactive series of seminars, artist talks, and museum/studio visits created to encourage dialog and passion for art historical scholarship.  Bernhard earned her Master of Fine Arts in Painting at Laguna College of Art and Design.  

David Downs is a self-taught interdisciplinary artist who predominantly works with oil paint while challenging the historical context of painting through sculpture and installation. His work has been exhibited in NYC, Chicago, and Santa Fe. David’s artwork has been featured in publications such as Barbed and Average Arts, and his written articles have appeared in HIT Magazine. He is the founder of Sprocketbox Publishing and has showcased the work of over 80 artists within a span of eight publications and several videos. He was a resident artist with Spudnik Press Cooperative and a recipient of a CAAP Grant. Currently he lives in Evanston and works in Chicago.

Boris Ostrerov earned a BFA in Painting from the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and an MFA in Painting and Drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Ostrerov is a painter who manipulates and explores the possibilities and physicality of oil paint. Stacking, gravity, excess, and the confines and edges of the rectangle have been recurring themes in his work for several years.  Ostrerov’s current work is seductive, juicy, visceral, and grotesque. He has exhibited widely and has earned several opportunities including showing at Paris London Hong Kong (PLHK), Lubov Gallery, the Portrait Society in Milwaukee and in Chicago’s NEXT fair. He has been featured in several publications including New American Paintings #119 and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Ostrerov’s painting was included in the New American Paintings show at the Elmhurst Art Museum in 2016.  Ostrerov currently lives and works in Chicago.

Erin Smego is a post-minimalist sculptor and installation artist who lives and works in Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2011). Smego is currently an Artist-in-Residence at HATCH Projects, Chicago Artists’ Coalition. She has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions in the United States including: 65Grand, THE SUB-MISSION, baby blue gallery, The Fulton Street Collective, and 22. She’s had solo installations at The Hermosa Walls and
Ignition Projects (Chicago). She has also exhibited internationally at the Czong
Institute for Contemporary Art Museum in Gyenggi-do, South Korea. Smego was
awarded the Edna L. Cushing Annual Memorial Prize in a juried show Elements of
Abstraction (2015) at the St. Louis Artists' Guild and the Working Artist
Organization Grant (2018).

Location and contact
Baby Blue Gallery
2201 S Halsted 3-4s
Chicago  Illinois  60808
United States