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Exhibition: Past Perfect BeingNov 10–Dec 12, 1997


Perfect Being is a group exhibition featuring paintings by seven established and emerging artists who employ distinct visual languages of signs, codes, and symbols in an attempt to bring about the presentation of existential dichotomies—inner/outer, spiritual/material, and order/chaos. While extremely idiosyncratic in their personal visions, these artists have in common an overwhelming need to control interpretation so that the viewer’s experience carries the revelatory power of the original experience. Their goal is to create a utopian moment in which expression and communication attain equal status. While all of these artists strive toward a common goal, the individual approaches illuminated in Perfect Being are as different and specific as each artist ’s own DNA.

Though they diverge in style, the expressive hermeticism of Forrest Bess’ “ideograms,” the esoteric complexity of Paul Laffoley’s diagrams, and the reserved pop of Tatsuya McCoy’s paintings commonly contrast systems of signs to subjective feelings.

The paintings in Perfect Being oscillate between deeply personal worldviews and controlled interpretations. From Michael Banicki’s systemized charts, in which subjective feelings and emotions are presented as empirical results, to Alfred Jensen’s geometric abstractions based on scientific and mystical investigations, these artists’ highly individuated practices evoke original encounters with the universal.

The exhibition is accompanied by a twelve-page black-and-white catalogue.


Michael Banicki, Forrest Bess, Alfred Jensen, Paul Laffoley, Tatsuya McCoy, David Russick, and Stephen Williams.


Perfect Being is made possible by the School of Art and Design and the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the State University of New York College at Potsdam, and supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.