The best of Todd Chilton's paintings produce a visual stimulation of such intensity that prolonged exposure is uncomfortable. Too, one is led to believe that the sometimes protracted effort which is required to successfully execute such works is not entirely comfortable for his own person.
Above: "Wiggle" @ Slow
Here, the paint is often thick upon the canvas. And, it's Chilton alone who's physically involved in the process of creating the things. He freely admits to failure in his successive attempts to build a proper composition; what didn't work, for him, is (mostly) lost as underpainting or altogether discarded. When so much contemporary craft is noncommittal, there's a pleasure to be taken in the arrival at a definite position after a personal struggle.
Above: "Buzzy Diamonds" in Ps & Qs @ HPAC, March 2010
"Contradiction" seems a good word to employ (and it's not to be construed as pejorative) when attempting to describe Chilton and his work. He parallels many of the linear patterns of Op; but if Bridget Louise Riley is recalled from the 80's and 90's, Chilton's contemporary channeling is much more painterly than was the historical reality. And while he's clearly interested in geometric abstraction he doesn't fuss with hard edges; there he's like Sean Scully. When the admixture gels, his canvases are thick, vibrant masses of highly contrasting hue and/or value which possess a kaleidoscopic energy. He pulls it off--in Chicago.
Above: "Pointing to the Middle" @ Tony Wight, January 2009
With regard to this current show, "Wiggle" in particular manages to pack a nice punch in spite of the fact that it, like all of the paintings on display at Slow Gallery, is of a rather modest (350 square inches) scale. Alongside Todd Chilton, Mike Peter Smith exhibits a series of small, well-crafted and surreal sculptures at Slow. The relationship between the painting and sculpture isn't immediately clear.
Above: "Raft" by Mike Peter Smith @ Slow
Todd Chilton & Mike Peter Smith
September 4 - October 2, 2010
12pm - 5pm
2153 W. 21st Street
Neoteric Art's 2009 interview with Todd Chilton,
Dan Gunn's 2009 review of Todd Chilton,
Todd Chilton has been called (I think inappropriately) a "Neo-Geo" painter. See Grace Glueck's 1987 report on Neo-Geo,
+ + +
"Editorial: After Minimalism in Chicago the Summer of 2011," July 22, 2011
"Editorial: Todd Chilton vis-a-vis Scott Stack," February 23, 2012
- Paul Germanos