Robert MacNeill at Iceberg Gallery

Carrie McGath

Robert MacNeill, Studio Portrait 2: Plow (corn don't grow at all on Rockytop)

Artist Robert MacNeill’s decidedly poignant work in his first solo exhibition, Frozen Music, at Iceberg Gallery attracted many to the new Iceberg Gallery in Rogers Park. The gallery is located at the back of the property, off a garden in a wonderfully custom-designed gallery space which MacNeill helped to create.

MacNeill’s work beckons the personal sexuality of Robert Mapplethorpe as in the piece, Studio Portrait 2: Plow (corn don’t grow at all on Rockytop) from 2009-2010, while a piece like Jiffy Mix Rising from 2010 brings to mind the readymade work of Marcel DuChamp with a large pinch of Andy Warhol. MacNeill’s sentiments and instincts are diverse in the works shown here, works that encompass only 2009 and 2010.

Photography alongside installation, two mediums that are mostly compatible bedfellows, make complete sense in the space, the gallery taking on a look of being in a collector’s home rather than a typical white cube. This is a refreshing way to have a gallery now, especially one that is born of a residential property. But the sense of the collector remains in this show because of the gallery owner’s inclusion of two Mapplethorpe pieces — a Polaroid and a photograph — that speak well with the work of MacNeill.

Robert MacNeill, Jiffy Mix Rising

Dress from 2009 is painted concrete that possesses a drapery quality of lush fabric and it stands as the centerpiece of the show as viewers enter the gallery. Its harsh reality in its concrete material with the loose-looking “dress” gives this sculpture a texture and a juxtaposition that make it a natural centerpiece and introduction to the rest of the show. The back of the sculpture betrays in its geometric, brick-like

Robert MacNeill, Carry Me Through

form that tried to belie the lush, flowing fabric that is the focal point of the piece.

In Carry me through the simple installation again beckons a collector’s space in its inclusion of gallery owner Dr. Daniel S. Berger’s Robert Mapplethorpe photograph, Marcus Leatherdale from 1978. Also in this installation is MacNeill’s wonderful sculpture, Black Flag from 2009, as well as a hunch of coal and a cigarette. The pieces come together as a thoughtful moment with black and white, perhaps inspired by the Mapplethorpe photograph of a nude man carrying an animal skin and a bow as if coming from a hunt. The rough and powerful inclusion of the black coal and the cigarette, as well as the fragile quality of Black Flag, seem to work together to be this narrative of masculinity and femininity, a yin and yang of human power and fragility.

Robert MacNeill, What A Relief (For Camelot)

In the bas relief sculpture, What a Relief (for Camelot) from 2010, we encounter an amalgam of elements and textures. For me this piece was strong in its story-telling of gravity, a defiance of forms and textures that create one gravitational moment of pulling and pushing, falling and holding on. The incorporation of fur gives it a gilded quality even in its powerlessness under a gravitational force. The piece is musical and full of motion as much of MacNeill’s work is just that: the work of this artist in this show at the Iceberg Gallery shows how silence and music can become one.

The Iceberg Gallery is located in Rogers Park at the home of Dr. Daniel S. Berger, MD at 7714 North Sheridan Road. The gallery is open Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. till 4:00 p.m. by appointment. Make an appointment to see Frozen Music by Robert MacNeill by emailing info@icebergchicago.com.