“The Shadow Archive: An Investigation into Vernacular Portrait Photography”
To make his “Quilt Paintings” in 2007 and 2008, New York–based artist Mike Cloud sewed constellations of new children’s clothes (sometimes with the tags still attached) to canvas, then added painted words and images. Stuffed with foam or stretched over starbursts of stretcher bars, these exuberant works combine bold T-shirt graphics with brushy renderings of rabbits and snowmen, and cheerful colors with ambiguous connotations.
According to the International Organization for Migration, nearly 3,000 people perished in 2017 trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. In far different circumstances, at least two million African captives died during the Middle Passage, between the 15th and 19th centuries, some of them thrown living into the Atlantic. The terrific new paintings at the center of Ellen Gallagher’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles continue her exploration of the history of that earlier tragedy and of the ocean as both graveyard and birthplace. In them, fragmented brown faces drift against sea-green backgrounds, conjuring the Afrofuturist myth—invented by the electronic music duo Drexciya—of an underwater realm inhabited by the unborn progeny of drowned pregnant African women.
This exhibition explores its subject from the Middle Ages through the present day. Comprising a selection of around sixty painted objects in a wide variety of materials (canvas, wood, glass, vellum, ceramics, silk, and more), the show includes work by masters of the Northern Renaissance, such as Jan van Eyck and Albrecht Dürer, as well as major modern and contemporary figures like Jackson Pollock and Gerhard Richter.
British artist John Russell argues for hybridity’s subversive potential in his new sculptures and mixed-medium paintings. Plastic flamingos perched atop thin metal rods sprout extra heads; paintings executed on translucent vinyl panels and lit from behind function simultaneously as silhouettes, transparencies, and paint-, gem-, and feather-encrusted collages. Meanwhile, a large photograph of a bird’s foot, digitally retouched to look like it’s growing a ghostly magenta paw, hints at a post-species future.
Showroom director Emily Pethick on four shows in London
Collector Elisabeth van der Does-Szantyr on two Sheila Hicks shows in Paris
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