Vertical Gallery is very proud to present ‘Larger Than Life,’ a solo exhibit featuring Chicago painter Joseph Renda Jr. ‘Larger Than Life,’ which runs from June 4-25 at our 1016 N. Western Ave. location, assembles two dozen paintings and watercolor studies exploring the outsized impact of humankind on the natural world. In conjunction with the show’s opening, taking place Saturday, June 4 from noon to 6:00 pm, Vertical will release two new prints by Renda as well as a book, also titled ‘Larger Than Life.’ Renda will return to the gallery Saturday, June 18 for an artist talk beginning at 11:00 am.
‘Larger Than Life,’ which follows two years after Renda’s first solo Vertical showcase, ‘Biophilia,’ contrasts the vastness of nature with the relative triviality of the humans who nevertheless pose Earth’s greatest threat — an imbalance the artist portrays via human figures dwarfed by surrealistic landscapes (the first time he has incorporated landscapes and backgrounds into his work).
“The title ‘Larger Than Life’ speaks to the feeling of walking in nature, looking out into the wilderness and feeling engulfed by your surroundings,” Renda explains. “Some of these pieces touch on eco-activist themes, while others focus on our connection to nature in a more whimsical way. Having the human element in these pieces means viewers can relate to the ideas more directly. Conceptually and visually, this is my most cohesive body of work to date.”
Highlights of ‘Larger Than Life’ include “Through Innocent Eyes,” created in conjunction with Renda’s 12-year-old brother Reagan. “I asked him to draw a house and a tree, and then I created a trompe-l'œil version that looks like crayon,” Renda says. “The way kids draw trees and houses is very innocent. They look at nature as something to explore — something to interact with. Half of the pieces in this show encourage people to recapture their childlike innocence about nature; the other half is about our impact on nature, and how we use it for personal gain. It’s up to the viewer to choose how they want to interact, but if we keep going the way we’re going, there isn’t going to be nature anymore.”
Renda earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the American Academy of Art in 2018, a year after making his Vertical Gallery debut as part of an all-star holiday pop-up event. He has since shown in numerous group exhibitions both at home and abroad, and in 2021 curated two Vertical group shows, ‘Water the Plants’ and ‘Atomic Number 13.’ Renda has also created murals throughout the Chicagoland area, and owns and operates the art services and custom framing company ArtBuilds.
Joseph Renda Jr.
‘Larger Than Life’
June 4 – 25, 2022
Opening Day: Saturday, June 4th, noon-6pm
Vertical Gallery, 1016 N Western Ave.