Wrightwood 659, a stunning Lincoln Park gallery designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architect Tadao Ando, hosts four dynamic exhibitions now through July 30, 2022. The exhibits are installed throughout Wrightwood 659’s unique exhibition space, a transformed 1920s apartment building featuring world-renowned Ando’s signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. The exhibits are representative of Wrightwood 659’s commitment to architecture and socially engaged art.
Presented in cooperation with the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), AMERICAN FRAMING explores the architecture of wood framing, and is being presented for the first time ever in the United States. A reinstallation of the 2021 U.S. Pavilion entry in the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, AMERICAN FRAMING features a walk-through abstraction of a monumental wood-framed building that soars through Wrightwood 659’s three-story atrium.
The exhibit also includes scale models designed by students at the UIC School of Architecture that trace the history of wood framing, including replicas of an Illinois round barn and the 1833 St. Mary’s Catholic Church, one of the earliest examples of framing in Chicago. Interspersed throughout the installation is furniture produced with common lumber, including chairs, rockers, and benches.
In the second-floor gallery, Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija’s critically acclaimed (who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green) is presented for the first time in Chicago. This installation recasts Wrightwood 659’s gallery as a communal dining space where visitors are offered samples of Thai curries while a large-scale mural — derived from photojournalistic imagery of protests — is drawn on the walls. The selection of images range from 2009-2010 anti-government protests in Bangkok to Chicago’s 2020 Black Lives Matter marches, and underline Tiravanija’s interests in the relationship between citizens, the role of government, and personal liberty.
In the fourth-floor gallery, Wrightwood 659 premieres a rarely seen selection of Japanese paintings exhibited for the first time in the United States. These works expand on the common depiction of the urbane “modern girl” (modan gāru or moga). Moga captured the public imagination in 1920s Japan — prioritizing an independent lifestyle and challenging the traditional state-sanctioned ideal of the “good wife, wise mother.” The role of women in Japanese society was not one-dimensional, and continued to diversify during the 1930s. The exhibit brings paintings of mothers and daughters back into the conversation about the moga, exhibiting them beside more popular imagery of the “modern girl,” in an exploration of feminine representation.
This compelling exhibit is composed of images and texts that illuminate the life and work of renowned Bangladeshi photojournalist and human rights activist Shahidul Alam. Winner of the CPJ International Press Freedom Award, Alam has been a long-time campaigner for social justice, and has challenged the global dominance of Western media. Alam’s resistance is evidenced through his art and activism, which has often led to confrontation with the powerful elite of his native Bangladesh. We Shall Defy maps a compelling and relevant testimony to the power of the human spirit and the fragility of democracy.