Chicago: John Neff Prints Robert Blanchon at Golden Gallery

In-progress installation shot of Robert Blanchon, Untitled (aroma / 1981), 1995, Van Dyke prints on vellum, Dimensions variable. Image courtesy Golden Gallery.

There is one week left to see a remarkably thoughtful print exhibition on the North Side of Chicago. Organized by Andrew Blackley and Jacob Meehan for Golden Gallery, John Neff Prints Robert Blanchon is multi-facted, in-progress, and ephemeral. The justification is complex (the gallery’s press release a necessary tool in understanding the context), but in a print-related summary, John Neff is reimagining and reprinting a body of the deceased Robert Blanchon’s 1995 work, Untitled (aroma / 1981), a piece which has survived only in archival paper ephemera, and pinned those papers to a wall. The ephemera’s subject matter is a collection of pre-AIDS advertisements for queer sex products. Over the course of the exhibition, Neff gradually created transparencies (negatives) of those images, reprinted them as unfixed cyanotype and Van Dyke sepia prints, and hung the sepia prints on the opposite wall. The cyanotypes and the negative transparencies rest in a binder on Neff’s copy and print-stand, another reference to a Blanchon piece, called Untitled (drawing horse) (1998). The gallery, which has for this exhibition served as a studio and a (remarkably clean) print shop, feels remarkably alive with offset smears and handprints on the wall marking the act of movement and of printmaking.

John Neff, a 2001 University of Illinois at Chicago MFA graduate, is invested in a complex evolution of the work he presents, and, indeed, presentation is the key, for Neff situates himself as an emcee revealing a history that was otherwise hidden. In John Neff Prints Robert Blanchon, Neff is also playing the role of a master printer, serving as the vehicle and the production machine for another person’s creative vision. This is not to say that the display isn’t creative in itself–it is–but Neff is re-presenting history with just the right amount of integrity and contemporary revisioning.

For a peek at Neff’s 2010 related work at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, take a look at this video as well as a Portrait of the Artist profile in Newcity.

In-progress installation shot of Robert Blanchon, Untitled (aroma / 1981), 1995, Van Dyke prints on vellum, Dimensions variable. Image courtesy Golden Gallery.

View of the wall where the ephemeral papers hung, with pins and handprints still marking the space.

Final installation shot of Robert Blanchon, Untitled (aroma / 1981), 1995, Van Dyke prints on vellum, Dimensions variable. Image courtesy Golden Gallery.

Gallery visitors and director Jacob Meehan in front of the final wall.

Detail of a Van Dyke print on vellum.

Detail of a Van Dyke print on vellum.

John Neff’s copy and print-stand.

John Neff’s binder of negative transparencies and cyanotype prints.

Robert Blanchon’s Untitled (drawing horse) (1998), to which Neff’s copy and print-stand refers.


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Categories: Artists, Exhibitions, Reviews


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