Lee Wells | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Lee Wells's photographic portraits at the Lobby Gallery seem to have the hearts and souls cut out of them. In one series he paints various sizes of white rectangles over his images, and their placement seems strangely arbitrary. Much of the pretty face of the young blond in The Girl is obscured by rectangles, and the faces and torsos of the duo in The Couple are almost entirely obliterated. In another series, "Machines of Power," digitally created red rectangles partially cover photos of military aircraft. Most of these rectangles are taller than they are wide, which suggests vertical movement through space, falling bombs, and blood. The plane in The F-117 aims toward the picture's lower edge as if about to assault the land below. These works point to more than the dehumanizing effect of war; we sense that people and their machines are helpless before a system of marks whose logic is indecipherable--a fitting metaphor for how many of us feel about aspects of today's world. Lobby, 731 N. Sangamon, through September 4. Hours are noon to 5 Saturday; 312-432-4327.

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