Mark Adkins | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mark Adkins has written that his inspirations include "comics, animation, and perhaps science fiction." Sci-fi certainly seems to inform his untitled works on paper at the Contemporary Art Workshop: the refined precision of his painting creates a charming, sensuous beauty, but the bizarre beings depicted look like fusions of the animal, botanical, and industrial, foretelling not a dazzling future for civilization but a primitive regression. One picture includes a mound of soil with an eye in front of a crumbling wall; four thumb shapes in a nearby glass bubble are linked by tubes. In another, a tree stump surrounded by barbed wire is topped by gray goo that includes an eye and a nose; steps lead to openings in the stump, as if it's ready for tourists. In a third, a brick column supports a thumb out of which a tree grows; a picture attached to the base of the column shows a blob with an eye, and a noose hangs from one of the tree's branches. These juxtapositions don't so much suggest the contradictions of modernism as portray a world spinning out of control. Contemporary Art Workshop, 542 W. Grant, through May 11. Hours are 12:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday and noon to 5 Saturday; 773-472-4004.

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