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My Little Book of Ironies, 2004
oil on canvas
© Richard Laurent 2004

Heavy Petting: The Painted Animal
New Work by Richard Laurent

November 3 - 27, 2004

Fine Arts Building Gallery
410 S. Michigan Avenue, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60606
Hours: Wed-Sat 12p-6p

Richard Laurent highlights animal imagery, evokes iconographic puns, turns human-animal conventions on their heads in this 22-work solo exhibition. Heavy Petting: The Painted Animal finds its footing in an examination of the shifting roles of animal imagery through centuries of Western art. Quoting sources as diverse as saintly iconography and formal 17th-century portraiture, Laurent inverts or commingles human and animal roles to illustrate our beastly nature, and our foibles. Dogs paint Rembrandts, queenly cats hold court with fawning human favorites, and a velociraptor strolls with a full Starbucks mug in these paintings, most of them oil on canvas and rendered in Laurent's soft-edged, smoky illustrative style. In My Little Book of Ironies (2004: oil on canvas: 14x18 in.) the thoughtful mandrill's face bears all-too-human eyes, while the primate, be he man or ape, holds a small leather-bound book. Both the image and its title lend endless intriguing possibilities.

Some of these works are more successful than others -- the ones that most reward looking are those where the entendre is quieter, more obscure -- but overall, this is a playful exhibition that piques the imagination. Heavy Petting: The Painted Animal will be at the Fine Arts Building Gallery through November 27, 2004.

Visitors to the Fine Arts Building Gallery will also be able to view a concurrently running exhibition, Marion Kryczka: New Work. Click here for more information.

--Katherine Rook Lieber

Katherine Rook Lieber has edited ArtScope.net's Visual Arts reviews since 1998. Ms. Lieber is Editor and Associate Producer for ArtScope.net.

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