2. May 2011 08:42
Well, you'll have to wait until Tuesday to go see it, but I was marveling last night after I heard the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed about a timely show I saw this weekend in the West Loop. On Saturday night during gallery openings, I spent some time at Walsh Gallery viewing the gallery's current, "Gao Brothers: Grandeur and Catharsis." The artists have mostly focused on an unconventional view of Chairman Mao Zedong and the influence his regime had on the brothers personally as well as their country, the effects of China's Cultural Revolution as well as the rampant tyranny and oppression, characteristics unfortunately we still see today. The Execution of Christ dominates the main gallery room where we see a stand-off, and a pleading, thin Christ figure is surrounded by many Maos, their guns pointed at him. One Mao in the back reveals his hesitation and his reluctance to fire - revealing perhaps he's not as cold-hearted as the majority and he's allowing his own humanity to creep in.
The Execution of Christ
The reality of what it means to be one of the world's cruelist dictators comes back into focus when you encounter the large black and white photograph at the end of the gallery - if nothing else, guilt by association. The imagined scene draws you in because of the sinister make up of its subjects, and the horrible thought of having a handful of the world's most evil men all in the same place, shaking hands and congratulating each other. Gallery owner Julie Walsh proposed to the crowd that there would be a contest - a bottle of Champagne for anyone who could name all of the men in the photograph. The faces, dress and expressions were familiar to us all, considering the notoriety of these leaders, but after several minutes everyone in the gallery started to admit there were a couple they couldn't place, "the Wildcards" Julie said. Then there were leaders we could name who weren't part of the photo, but would have fit right in - an unsettling realization that there are more figures out there than can fit in a single picture, and there probably always will be. I was right about all but two, as was the case for most of the group. Then we all gave up, asked for the answers and went on about our night.
I'll let you guess the names of the 'bad men,' as I called them, but one everyone will recognize is of course Osama Bin Laden. He's smiling in the lower left-hand corner. He's one who, as of Saturday, wasn't really yet a part of history - as far as everyone in the room knew, he was still out there.
The show has been extended but closes soon.
118 N. Peoria, 2nd Fl. (60607)