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Art & Art History

On Condition

Monday, October 05, 1992–Saturday, October 31, 1992

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Artists: Nancy Chunn, Lydia Dona, Susanne Doremus, Mary Heilmann, Cheonae Kim, David Moreno, Thomas Nozkowski, Warren Rohrer, Kay Rosen, Elena Sisto, Evelyn Statsinger, and Kevin Wolff

On Condition: Between Abstraction and Representation, curated by Julia Fish, presents recent paintings by twelve contemporary artists whose works differ in appearance and intention. The artists included in this exhibition are Nancy Chunn, Lydia Dona, Susanne Doremus, Mary Heilmann, Cheonae Kim, David Moreno, Thomas Nozkowski, Warren Rohrer, Kay Rosen, Elena Sisto, Evelyn Statsinger, and Kevin Wolff. Working within painting ’s material definition, that is, the application of paint to a flat, prepared surface, each artist takes a unique approach to painting ’s history and to current critical issues, engaging the language(s) of abstraction along with the methods, systems, and/or conventions of representation. The character of that engagement is qualified by the references each artist introduces and negotiates and the forms of visual abstraction—color, shape and line—that are employed.

Considering these paintings individually, each may appear to operate entirely within the terms of representation or abstraction. Yet upon closer examination, one can sense that the works hold an uneasy allegiance to either position, and that the images in each painting continue to shift associations, offering, finally, a synthesis of meaning.

It is instructive to consider how meaning is joined and how synthesis is achieved. Rohrer, Sisto, Statsinger, and Wolff willingly embrace their references and the specific spatial illusion necessary to convince, but then set their images to work, challenging that very illusion through the deliberate editing of the imagery selected, or through reductive methods of painting.

Doremus, Kim, Rohrer, and Rosen investigate abstract systems of visual calligraphy, sign, or spoken language. These paintings allow the mind to read, to mouth their silent but insistent speech.

Chunn, Dona, Moreno, Sisto, and Statsinger employ various combinations of cultural, political, diagrammatic, or signifying methods of image-making toward deliberate ends. They further augment meaning by fragmenting those images, thus building their paintings through juxtaposition, substitution, or cancellation.

Heilmann and Nozkowski develop full and varied surfaces, both transparent and opaque, in which the procedure of form-making is a transference of subjective, physical experience. Their forms adhere to the canvas as forms themselves, the complete image neither larger nor smaller than itself: a representation of an abstraction.

Encountering these paintings, one surely recognizes a (self)conscious consideration of several art-historical precedents, including the subjective, disjunctive revelations of Surrealism; the scale, authority, and painterly gestures of abstract expressionism; and the unabashed transfer and elevation of cultural iconography found in Pop and recent appropriation art. While these historical factors have provided some of the intellectual foundation from which the artists work, the paintings presented in this exhibition were also constructed with an awareness of the critical and theoretical reassessment of those very precedents within our current (and continuously redefined) cultural context. Assembled, these images offered evidence of an enriched position for painting, one gained through weighing the requirements of both abstraction and representation, and calibrating their relative and mutual influences.


Wilk, Deborah. “On Condition.” New Art Examiner, Apr. 1993, p. 31.


Postcard: On Condition


    On Condition is supported by the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Art and Design’s College of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning.


    Nancy Chunn

    Panama: Decades of Deals, 1990
    Oil and wax on canvas, 72 x 102 in.

    Lydia Dona

    Motoria Models of Diffusion, Illusion, Transfusion and Fusion, 1992
    Oil, acrylic, and signpaint on canvas, 72 x 68 in.

    Susanne Doremus

    Insomnia, 1990
    Oil on linen, 78 x 84 in.

    Mary Heilmann

    Black Cranky, 1990
    Oil on canvas, 39 x 29 in.

    Sunshine, 1991
    Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 in.

    Cheonae Kim

    Untitled, 1992
    Acrylic on plywood, 4 x 16 in.

    David Moreno

    Untitled, 1990
    Oil and collage on canvas, 80 x 58 in.

    Thomas Nozkowski

    Untitled, 1991
    Oil on canvasboard, 16 x 20 in.

    Warren Rohrer

    Field: Language 6, 1991
    Oil on linen, 48 1/2 x 48 x 3/8 in.

    Kay Rosen

    Odd/Even, 1990
    Enamel signpaint on canvas, 15 1/2 x 29 in.

    Elena Sisto

    Untitled, 1992
    Tempera on linen, 16 x 24 in.

    Evelyn Statsinger

    Crossroads, 1992
    Oil on canvas, 32 x 34 in.

    Kevin Wolff

    Hole, 1991
    Acrylic on canvas, 34 x 46 in.


    Julia Fish HeadshotArtist Julia Fish was born in Oregon and has lived and worked in Chicago since 1985. She produces paintings that approach abstraction but in fact, derive from the imagery of her home, studio, and garden. Her paintings and drawings have been included in exhibitions at Blackfish Gallery, Portland (1982); Loughelton Gallery, New York (1989); and Robbin Lockett, Chicago (1991). Her work has also been presented in various group exhibitions since 1978.

    Fish received the NEA/Arts Midwest Visual Artist Fellowship in 1986, recognition from Art Matters, Inc. New York, in 1987, and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in 1991. She received a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art in 1976, and an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1982.


    On Condition

    Gallery 400
    Chicago, Illinois
    October 5–31, 1992

    Opening Reception: October 7, 1992, 4–7pm