Time Out Chicago, Issue 161: March 27 - April 2, 2008
The Hyde Park Art Center's second floor hallway gallery should be the worst possible exhibition space for large-scale paintings. But Howard Fonda uses the linearity of the long, narrow corridor to highlight the development of his oeuvre over the past three years.
Fonda Confidently slips between representation and abstraction. The 32-year-old Chicago-based artist and SAIC alum is shockingly prolific - this exhibition comprises 44 paintings - and the themes and historical references in his work vary from Native American motifs to Plato to Expressionism to his girlfriend. Yet Fonda's spirited color paletteand distinctive all prima technique hold the exhibition together.
Fonda is adept at creating tight, interlocking patterns as he is defining the lyrical contours of a contemplative self-portrait. One extraordinary pair of paintings reveals the breadth of his thinking: "Harley Knows" (2007) is a stark landscape represented by bands of green, red and yellow; and "untitled" (2007) is a monochromatic, ghostly portrait of an old man done with very little paint. Both suggest that Fonda paints what is true, beautiful and meaningful to him, relying on intuition in a way normally associated with 19th-century Romanticism. But this impressive exhibition secures his reputation as a serious contemporary painter. - Michelle Grabner