At Gallery Oh in Chicago, Ellen Holzblatt’s moody, sublime landscapes share wall space with Kathy Weaver’s deceptively cheery illustrations of a robot war. Holzblatt’s pictures, done mostly in charcoal, ink and oil on paper, descend from that era of romantic painting when artists found connections between tumultuous skies, mottled seas and equivalent human emotions. Two portraits of the artist’s mother, her craggy visage and electric tunic as one with gray vistas and thunderous skies, are the exception that prove the rule. Weaver’s Origin Story, meanwhile, feels utterly contemporary, narrating in colorful gouaches the horrors perpetuated by two antagonistic factions, missile-shaped bots and cube-headed ones with strap-on wings. As usual with war, good versus evil hardly covers it, and no one side can ever really win. Both artists’ bodies of work hold their own, but one can’t help but wonder, what are they doing here together? One possible answer lies in the sets of human-size, patterned papier-mâché wings mounted in the gallery’s storefront window and set in the center of its front room—sprung to life from Weaver’s images, they suggest a radical way of entering Holzblatt’s.
—Lori Waxman 2021-04-19 12:38 PM