Quang Hong | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Quang Hong

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Quang Hong escaped from Vietnam by boat with his family in 1978, when he was four, and studied art at the University of California in Santa Cruz

before moving to Chicago a few years ago. Today he occasionally sells his paintings on the street or makes sidewalk drawings. He traces his interest in art to the chance discovery of Leonardo da Vinci in a library when he was eight; another major influence was comic books. And the bizarre creatures on display in Hong's paintings at Monkey Business do mix pop iconography with a supple color, texture, and line that recall his first master. The Possession of Chickens: The Fanfare of War shows a line of hollow-eyed chickens approaching their execution, dwarfed by larger, less recognizable figures. At once humorous and horrible, the painting is also rather beautiful, with a subtle surface rare in art inspired by comics. The Rocker shows a man on a tiny white rocking horse whose neck and head, emerging from beneath the man's protruding belly, resemble an erection. The silhouetted heads of children suggest an audience for the man's "performance," underlining the reference Hong intended to pedophile priests. The figure is outlined cartoonishly, but the horse's fur is realistically wispy and the kids' heads are delicately shaded. Adding to the variety is the expression on the horseman's face: a curious smiling grimace that reflects the mix of humor and horror throughout. Monkey Business, 1942 W. Chicago, through October 6. Hours are 1 to 7 Monday and Tuesday, noon to 7 Wednesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 Sunday; 773-269-3133.

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