Five unmissable exhibitions are dedicated to NEW YORK CITY Amanda Williams, Vivian Browne, Shikeith, Alberta Whittle, Alanis Forde, And Akilah Watt. The artist works in a variety of mediums, most notably painting. The group includes three artists from Barbados; Shikeith and Whittle present their first solo shows in New York; and three of the gallery exhibitions close this weekend:
AMANDA WILLIAMS, “CandyLadyBlack (The Champagne is Burned),” 2022 (oil and mixed media on wood panel, 20 x 20 inches / 50.8 x 50.8). | © Amanda Williams, photo by Jacob Hand
Amanda Williams: Candy Lady Black @ Gagosian, 821 Park Avenue on 75th Street. | 10 June-8 July 2022
Based in Chicago Amanda Williams states in his biography that his practice “employs color as a way to draw attention to the complexity of race, place and worth in cities.” An artist who trained as an architect, for her first exhibition at the Gagosian gallery, Williams presents new paintings from her ongoing series What Black Is This, You Say? (2020–). Made in 2022, the abstract paintings are based on a nine-color palette inspired by shades of Now and Later and Jolly Rancher candy. The long title of a painting by Williams last year – “What black is this you say? – Although rarely recognized as such, ‘The Candy Lady’ and her ‘Candy Store’ provided one of your earliest examples of enterprise. black, cooperative economy, black women CEOs and good customer service “—black (24.07.20)” – informs the concept of the artist’s current exhibition and talks about the cultural symbolism of his palette. The exhibition is organized by Antwaun Sargent , director of Gagosian.
… the paintings celebrate the local “candy woman” – a fixture of black urban neighborhoods in the Midwest and southern United States – as a source of strength, tenderness and joy and as a neglected symbol of black women as economic examples and leaders of the community.
ALANIS FORD, “The Wise Men”, 2022 (48 x 48 inches). | © Alanis Ford, Courtesy of the artist and Gallery of 1969
Rest: Alanis Forde + Akilah Watts @ Galleria 1969, 103 Allen Street. | May 18-June 25, 2022
Both Alanis Forde And Akilah Watt hail from Barbados and are currently artists in residence at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, NJ, through the Monira Foundation and ArtleadHER. Many consider Barbados a holiday destination, for these artists the island is home. Their figurative paintings explore the Barbadian experience with Forde channeling the imagination and Watts focusing on identity and belonging. The exhibition is curated by John Wolf,
View of Shikeith’s installation: Grace Comes Violently (East Gallery), Yossi Milo Gallery, New York, NY (2022). | Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery
Shikeith: Grace comes violently @ Yossi Milo Gallery, 245 Tenth Avenue, between West 24th and 25th Streets. | May 14-June 25, 2022
For her first solo show in New York City, “Grace Comes Violently”, Shikeith presents 21 works created between 2019 and 2022 that embrace photography, sculpture, installation and video. According to the exhibition’s description, the artist “sees the pursuit of grace as an often violent process of extricating and evolving, appealing to the experiences of queer black men, who have had to create and remake their own rituals of spiritual nourishment.” On the occasion of the exhibition “Shikeith: Notes towards Becoming a Spill” the first monograph of the artist is published by Aperture. Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Shikeith currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Shikeith “advances his meditations on the color blue to articulate the inner worlds, the mysterious and the ecstatic”.
VIVIAN BROWNE, “The Gathering,” 1973 (acrylic on canvas, 55 x 65 inches / 139.7 x 165.1 cm). | © Vivian Browne, courtesy of Ryan Lee Gallery
Vivian Browne: Africa Series, 1971-1974 @ Ryan Lee Gallery, 515 West 26th Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues. | 6 May-1 July 2022
In 1971, Vivian Browne (1929-1993) went to West Africa, a profound experience that transformed his practice. When Browne returned to New York, his work shifted mainly from figuration to abstraction. “Expression was an abstract idea, not an abstract of a particular thing, but an abstract of a particular feeling, a particular environment and an experience,” Brown said. “The colors were much brighter; the use of the model was there because it pervaded everything I saw or reacted to in Africa. “The exhibition features eight paintings and five works on paper from his rarely seen Africa series. None of the works have been publicly exhibited since 1993 and are exhibited together for the first time since 1974. A fully illustrated catalog with an essay by Leslie King-Hammond documents the exhibition.
This exhibition is an opportune occasion to consider the omission of African American artists from the discourse on abstraction, as well as the position African art occupies within the spectrum of modern American traditions. – Leslie King Hammond
ALBERTA WHITTLE, “Playing numbers under Antie Ramona’s eye (Happy Vale),” 2022 (acrylic, fabric hoodie, raffia and cowrie shells on canvas, 42 x 16 inches / 106.7 x 40.6 cm). | © Alberta Whittle, Courtesy the artist and Nicola Vassell Gallery
Alberta Whittle: Respectability won’t save you: a Caribbean obsession @ Nicola Vassell, 138 Tenth Avenue, between West 18th and 19th streets. | May 18-June 25, 2022
As his biography states, the Bridgetown practice, which originated in Barbados Alberta Whittle it is “motivated by the desire to manifest self-compassion and collective care as key methods of fighting anti-black”, which may come from strangers or one’s own family. Growing up, the artist’s grandfather insisted on adhering to strict social and cultural codes and so-called respectable behavior. For his first solo show in New York, Whittle features paintings, tufts, drawings, and a 32-minute single-channel video installation. Produced this year, the new body of works “evokes a path of assimilation, resistance and healing for herself, her family; indeed, because each of us has encouraged us to ‘cover up’ to get by ”. The exhibition is curated by Arianna Nourse at the Nicola Vassell Gallery, an art gallery owned by a black woman in Chelsea. Whittle lives and works in Glasgow and currently represents Scotland at the 59th Venice Biennale. CT
Amanda Williams was among the artists featured in “Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America”, published last year on the occasion of the homonymous exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The publication of Shikeith’s first monograph coincides with her exhibition at the Yossi Milo Gallery. Currently available directly through Aperture, “Shikeith: Notes towards Becoming a Spill” will be released widely on July 19th. A fully illustrated exhibition catalog, with an essay by Leslie King-Hammond, documents “Vivian Browne: Africa Series, 1971-1974” at Ryan Lee Gallery. Also consider “Alberta Whittle – How Flexible Can We Make the Mouth”, which documents the artist’s 2019 exhibition at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Dundee, Scotland.
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