Chicago, IL – Rotofugi, home to toys and art. One of the best venues for pop surrealism a mere mile and a half away from my current home. The charming, light-filled space greets visitors with cheery figures by Kidrobot, Frank Kozik, Tokidoki, and others. Additionally, they have apparel, plush toys, journals, and a variety of knickknacks. It’s easy to lose track of time, awed by all the clever and intricate crafts. The gallery, with constantly changing exhibits, is located towards the back of the space.
Two artists, Jeremiah Ketner and Shannon Bonatakis compose the most recent exhibit, on view through December 4, 2011. Both artists highlight femininity in their work in a style that incorporates soft brush strokes on medium sized canvases to create an ephemeral quality. However, their works diverge on all other areas.
Ketner paints whimsical images that transport you to a serene oceanic world. His cartoonish pixies follow the style of Japanese anime. Ketner says “everything is small and round” in Japan and his subjects reflect that notion. Bonatakis uses a similarly soft method of portraiture, focusing on young women. However, her characters are not hybrids of fantasy. The long sleek figures lack the sense of whimsy found in Ketner’s work. Bonatakis’ images instead, incorporate a sense of macabre. Although blood and severed body parts confront the viewer, they do not disrupt the scene. The characters have an uncanny acceptance of their fate and seem empowered by their imperfections or the fate bestowed on them. Resignation abounds as they penetrate the viewer with a lustful resonance. Eerily, these images instill the viewer with a sense of serenity.
This is Bonatakis’ first show at Rotofugi. She currently resides in Denver and is active in galleries across the US.
This is Ketner’s third show at Rotofugi. He has shown at over 50 galleries across North America. His characters grace the walls of Nordstroms throughout the country. Ketner also makes figures and plush toys. He lives in Chicago with his two sons, and together they explore the city.
Rotofugi Gallery is located at 2780 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago, IL 606 They are open between 11 am and 7 pm, 7 days a week.