Mounting solo shows adjacently can spark revelatory conversations. So it is with Yae Jee Min’s and Ricardo Partida’s simultaneous exhibitions at the Chicago gallery Julius Caesar (postponed since spring, now open). Min layers sequins, heat-press dyes, acrylic and more on canvases both teeny-tiny and ginormous, creating constellations of color, texture and pattern that owe something to Julie Mehretu and something else entirely to 1980s aesthetics. In his paintings, Partida combines neoclassical representations of Greek mythology with Venuses and femme fatales, plus some Gauguinesque coloring, and runs it through an unabashedly homoerotic filter. On the surface, the work of Min and Partida doesn’t seem to have much to talk about. But taking them together makes it loud and clear the extent to which each artist is creating work out of endless strata of past art, personal experience, material histories, and so on. Show me a painting that isn’t also a palimpsest, I’ll show you an artist who is in denial about the need to revisit the past in order to reinvent the future. It certainly, and thankfully, won’t be these two.
—Lori Waxman 2020-09-23 11:14 AM