Jun Kaneko | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Among Jun Kaneko's 28 pieces at Klein Art Works is a group of small ceramic sculptures decorated with geometric designs that recall color-field painting--though with a bit of humor. Gene Davis's stripes explore perception, and Barnett Newman's reach for the sublime, but the vertical bands in Chunk 89-02-92 (1989) are a bit cartoony, their yellow centers bordered by red bands and black lines. Toying with the boundary between painting and decorative object, Kaneko implicitly pokes fun at the way styles have become commodified. The enormous Bronze Heads, 03-01-01 (2003), in which two five-foot heads face each other on metal bases, can also be taken as humorous: one has a sternly iconic face that reaches for the generality of pre-Renaissance or tribal art, the other has a huge blue spiral instead of facial features. This work also implies that abstract designs can be as suggestive as figures--and that's what Kaneko's five poetic drawings are. Hawaiian Drawing D-03-02-78 (2003) has a fuzzy dark rectangle inside a slightly lighter one, and above the area where they meet floats a tiny hard-edged blue rectangle. Standing out from the inchoate blacks like a marker of human identity, it has some of the power the smaller sculptures seem to joke about. Klein Art Works, 400 N. Morgan, through March 22. Hours are 10 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday; 312-243-0400.

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