Andy Moore @ Gallery 400

Last Saturday University of Illinois at Chicago’s Gallery 400 closed its late spring show, which had featured Eun Hyung Kim‘s wall paintings and drawn sculptures in the main space, a video by Erin Cosgrove, and, nestled between the two, paintings and a monumental artist’s book by Andy Moore titled John’s Luv. I’m not throwing that work around – at over 900 hand-written and painted pages, the thing was a labor of art making that dwarfed the flanking exhibitions. That’s no knock on Kim or Cosgrove – John’s Luv could have made anything (including Moore’s other paintings) look like gesture in close comparison.

Andy Moore

Andy Moore

Andy Moore

Andy Moore

Andy Moore

Andy Moore

Moore’s book is more than just an extensive stretch of studio labor crystallized into a single object, though had its content stopped there it would have already been worth discussing. It has a written narrative, arranged an ongoing series of non-linear vignettes chopped into chapters, which follows a anti-Meursaultian protagonist in his adventures through life and love. The stories are very compelling, frighteningly honest even when dialed up to near absurdity, and the regularity of the stories suggest some level of autobiography. Where on that continuum between fact and fiction each story lies isn’t made clear, but they’re clearly not all completely invented. Many take place on buses and trains, and its no surprise that Moore’s handwriting also bears the jostled marks of public transportation.

I encourage you to read the text in the pictures below, if you can:

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Wherever the source, and even with an otherwise sentimental class of attributes, John’s Luv makes a powerful effect. The layers and layers of white-out editing, with phrases in bubbles and tiny script shoving into and out of every line, give the writing an awesome, stuttering, insisting cadence. Every surface is tortured with paint and sealant to ensure stability, and long stretches feature washy illustrations or abstractions like personal reveries between expressions. There is a forty four square foot painting on the table that the book appears to lie upon, but which is revealed to be a gigantically impractical foldout. Surprise at every turn.

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Andy Moore, John's Luv

Its single book form at once connects John’s Luv to a history of printed multiples, but cancels multiplication through its unique hand-made layering and clean documentation through its rough reflective surfaces. The book privatizes the work’s reading to one or two readers at a time, imposing strong control over how this work is seen. The form closes itself by its size, challenging a reader to either stand for unlikely hours absorbing its content or else to leave with the knowledge that the greater part was missed. In this Moore plays to the outside, employing a hermetical attack to frame the book as the product of a self-satisfying creative, but Moore himself (who recieved his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago) is no outsider. I’d like to think Moore knew well that the best way to leave an audience is stunned, unsatisfied, and deeply curious, and that’s exactly what John’s Luv did.

I give it a:

9.0

Andy Moore’s John’s Luv was on display April 27 – June 12th @ Gallery 400, 400 S Peoria St.

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