A Very Serious Gallery is proud to present Daydreams & Dreamscapes: A Pleasure Trip, including new works by Chicago based artists Jackie Patino, Milica Zekic, and Abbey LaCroix. Recent graduates of SAIC’s painting and drawing department, the artists are united by an interest in capturing the essences and dynamism of femininity. Exploring notions of childhood, innocence, trauma, religion, sexuality, and pleasure, to name a few, the works in this exhibition speak to the cacophony of feminine experience and the coming of age discovery that identity is not either or, but is a constant evolutionary experience.
Working within the histories of narrative and figurative painting, Jackie Patino creates biographical worlds through which they explore their upbringing in a religious Mexican household and its effect on the formation of their identity. Rendered in bright, almost synthetic colors, Patino depicts cartoonish figures in settings of intimacy or quest - with a friend, with a lover, with family, or in a moment of discovery. The paintings recall specific memories or experiences as a way to process childhood, innocence, sensuality, and the traumas at the core of understanding oneself. Light plays an important role in the work, illuminating a scene, emanating from the figures’ heads like crowns, or in Siete Dones de Jackie’s Inferno, 2023 highlighting the underbelly of figures in a whimsical depiction of hell. It functions as a formal tool in the work, but also a metaphorical clash, nodding to the juxtapositions and conflicts that exist in any person.
Finding power in embracing the complexity of feminine identity, Mila Zekic creates drawings, paintings, and textile work that depict women in colorful domestic, social, and introspective settings. Painted using bright, playful hues such as pinks, reds, and purples, Zekic’s figures are, by contrast, coy, brooding, mysterious, and sensual. In the series of mixed media works featured in this exhibition, Zekic depicts lone figures in moments of solace against technicolor backdrops, portraying an emotional tension that is deeply personal yet universal. This tension is heightened through her use of multiple layers of pattern, paint, and decorative elements such as glitter, that create a jumbled collage of the material, spiritual, and sensual journey of the creation of each work.
Interested in the intersection of art and esotericism, Abbey LaCroix renders brightly colored symmetric abstractions that recall feminine forms, landscapes, and the balanced patterning of stained glass. Working in sections, LaCroix begins each work with a slightly garish underpainting, then carves each progressive layer through washes of cool colors. The final works provide the viewer with a calming, meditative composition of light, color, and form that seem to hold and transmit energy - the divine feminine. Heavily influenced by the Transcendental painters of the late 1930s, LaCroix creates environments that speak to a better place, but also reference the period and influences of their making.