A mid-career retrospective of Chicago artist Christina Ramberg. Ramberg’s paintings of the late sixties and seventies deal with the traditional notions of beauty and their relationship to our bodies. Her pictures focus on heads, torsos, arms, and legs?bodily fragmants, never whole figures?and the “requirements for beauty” necessitated in each. These “requirements” involve the seemingly unnatural and illogical rituals and processes to which women subject themselves in order to attain an acceptable level of attractiveness. The paintings often feature female torsos wrapped and tied in exotic bands of cloth. Sometimes a hand will be pictured as well, gracefully completing a critical tuck or fold. Thus the paintings may seem painfully sinister, amusingly ridiculous, or sadomasochistic, depending on the viewer’s identification with them. In all of the paintings, traditional notions of beauty, attractiveness and fashion?and the social constraints and restrictions of each?are provocatively questioned.
Ramberg will also exhibit several more recent “untitled” paintings, which deal with more universal notions of space, tension, support and structure. In these paintings, it is as if the flesh and fabric of the earlier works has been stripped away, leaving more geometric and monochromatic lines and forms which allude to skeletal torsos, or vessels, or architecture. The probing, less obsessive techinique in these paintings signifies Rambergs’s desire to go beyond the literal trappings of her earlier work to broader, less personal imagery. Christina Ramberg is regarded as one of the more important and persistant of the “Imagists,” a loosely associated group of Chicago artists who made themselves and Chicago world-renowned for their flambouyant styles and witty, often caustic and perverse use of language and the human figure.