Gwendolyn Zabicki is a painter from Chicago. She earned her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005 and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2012. Her work has shown at Robert Bills Contemporary, Comfort Station, Gallery 400, Northern Illinois University, and The Bauhaus Universität in Weimar, Germany. She is the founder of the South Logan Arts Coalition and the pop-up exhibition space, Frogman Gallery. Currently, she teaches painting and drawing at the Lillstreet Art Center and runs the Lillstreet Artists Lecture Series.
About Gwendolyn’s work:
The urban landscape is full of small stories. There are some that we are allowed to read, like the story told by a commemorative monument, while others, more personal ones, are concealed. An unreadable sign is like a cipher, or even a muffled scream. It draws more attention to itself because it can’t be understood. I am influenced by the American painters Maureen Gallace, Lois Dodd, and Emmett Kerrigan, who make the personal narratives that are hidden in the landscape visible. Also, I look to Wilhelm Sasnal, George Ault, and Peter Dreher, makers of iconic, falsely-modest imagery that act as stand-ins for historical memory, even trauma.
I paint in oils, (often outside and often at night) in my neighborhood of Logan Square. These are quick, small paintings inspired by the Bosnian-American novelist Aleksandar Hemon. He wrote that Chicago “was built not for people to come together, but for them to be safely apart.” He argued that in an attempt to build individual freedom, privacy, and independence into the urban landscape, the city’s planning and architecture instead reinforce loneliness and isolation. We can see evidence of life happening around us, but feel shut out of the private lives of others.
My paintings explore the shared melancholy produced by life in this kind of city, in which small moments of looking drive home our apartness from one another. The Turkish word hüzün–used throughout Islamic literature–seems to encapsulate precisely Hemon’s sentiment. Hüzün describes the experience of living among architectural reminders of a city’s past inhabitants, achievements, and ideals. Hüzün is the unspoken medium of these paintings, their inexpressible language. My work takes what is briefly glimpsed as its subject, hinting at the lives of others who will remain forever unknown to us.
You can view Gwendolyn’s paintings at Morton College. 3801 S. Central Avenue, Cicero, Illinois 60804. Building C Second floor, across from the Student Union. This exhibition is free and open to the public.
Curated by Diana Gabriel