GALLERY EDITION, 2020
DAVID ZWIRNER, NEW YORK CITY, JANUARY 2020
For the last four years, I have spent a great deal of time at The Underground Museum in Los Angeles, a museum founded by the late Noah Davis. During my time there I have seen life-changing exhibitions and works, yet had never seen a full body of work by Davis himself. In late 2019 I heard the gallery, David Zwirner, would finally change that. I was excited my first time seeing Noah Davis' work would be in New York City, the city of art and the nonstop buzz of energy --- even in the winter. During the night of the opening, the air was extra crispy, cold, and windy. This would not stop the overflow of people in the three-room gallery. This opening would be the last opening I would attend in 2020, which made this exhibition even more special.
I couldn't believe this young artist had such an impact on his community and how his vision would transcend beyond his own work and his death. The belief he had in himself and the future is something I will always hold in my heart and memory. This opening wasn't like other openings. This one was filled with love, admiration, excitement, and happiness from friends, family, artists, art lovers, and so on. In this mixed crowd of people, I felt like I belonged. I felt loved. I felt seen. In those few hours, I was just happy and from what I saw, everyone else was too. Noah has taught me how to be an artist, a curator, and a community member, and most importantly, he taught me how to dream...how to believe, despite doubt from others. And I can't thank him enough.
About the Paintings + Reflection
Unlike the other exhibitions I highlight, Davis' isn't about a specific theme, instead, it is an exhibition that celebrates his work throughout his life. These figurative paintings are from both Noah Davis' estate and private collections. When I saw his paintings I was in awe. Davis' use of colors, composition, content, patterns, and titles engulfs you. His paintings are thought-provoking, layered in meaning, and overall compelling to look at. Each painting tells a story paired with a title that guides you through the story that Davis, maybe, was trying to tell.
His ability to paint black bodies and black life is nothing like I have seen before and it truly made me miss my family. I revisited this show twice and each time I felt the energy of the works and of Davis himself. Noah Davis is an artist gone too soon, but his legacy, memory, and energy will live forever through his work and The Underground Museum.
Noah Davis exhibition is my choice for the #1 exhibition of 2020.
A REFLECTIVE LOOK
NOAH DAVIS, PAINTING FOR MY DAD, 2011
WATCH THIS FILM about noah davis and READ more about the exhibition here
DAVID KORDINSKY, LOS ANGELES, MARCH 2020
L.A. loves Lauren Halsey because she loves them back and that is evident through her work and the crowds she brings out in her home city. More specifically, Halsey's work brings crowds of people from South Central L.A. into fine art spaces, the same spaces that holds a long history of excluding people of color. Halsey has been changing that with her larger than life installations that embodies Black culture and the energy from her neighborhood, bringing those people from her neighborhood into these mostly white spaces. This exhibition was no different.
From the looks of it (Instagram), to say Halsey's exhibition was packed, would be an understatement. The line was around the block for hours, filled with people from all over L.A. Line-out-the-door exhibitions rarely happen in L.A. The last two times I witnessed openings like that was Kerry James Marshall's 2016 retrospective at MOCA and Hammer's 2018, Made in LA, exhibition, that also included Halsey, who ended up winning the $100,000 Mohn Award from her installation in that show.
I ran into the gallery days before Mama Covid shut the country down and on the last day of the exhibition. Even in its final hours her exhibition was still flowing with people.
About the Work + Reflection
This was my third time seeing Halsey's work and it never fails to amaze me. Her vision is undeniable. Her roots in South Central are deep and her loyalty to her community is admirable and inspiring. Like her other large scale works, this exhibition placed you into another world - for some at least. As for others, it was a world they already knew, a world that was familiar from the sign's designs, familiar names, artifacts, installations, and imagery. They were colorful, they were reflective, they were B L A C K. This show was a reminder that gentrification may try to erase the culture and memory of the Black communities that have lived in and built up these neighborhoods in L.A., but the community will not let that happen without a fight.
Halsey's work continues to circle around the massive problem South Central LA faces: gentrification. As small mom and pop businesses are pushed out and large corporations takes over, Halsey "creates structures that ask us to see how she remembers what’s being erased."
What I love about her work, she creates space for Black people in the same environments that excludes them. For those who do not see how communities of colors are effected and impacted by gentrification, this exhibition puts it in view. Most importantly, her work allows viewers to see themselves both literally and figuratively.
From what I saw, the children and people who came to this exhibition saw themselves in her work. Isn't that what art is about?
Vielmetter, LOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 2020
On my birthday my best friend and I made our way downtown to view the highly anticipated exhibition, Body Politic, by Los Angeles-based artist, Rodney McMillian. I was semi-familiar with McMillian's work, having seen one of his sculptures in the main area of MoMA's lounge in New York. I had no idea what this show was about or the context of these works and nonetheless, I was not prepared to walk in.
This was an emotional show. When I saw his piece, White House II, my first thought was, "Mr. President, do you give a fuck yet?" Activated by the facts McMillian lays onto us about Black bodies and the history of America's medical system, I couldn't help but be emotional, especially in a time where Black people are dying left and right from covid. At this moment in history, it has been made clear the discrimination and lack of care people of color face in the medical system. This show was powerful and upsetting, reminding me of America's dark and evil history when it comes to Black bodies.
About the Work + Reflection
McMillian's Body Politic featured both paintings and sculptures about the use and abuse of Black bodies in America's medical systems. His works featured abstract paintings with a hue of colors and thick paint, overlapped by disturbing texts about the violence Black bodies have encountered in the name of medicine. His sculptures haunt you with their largeness and misshapes.
In one of his sculptures, he has these huge black objects dangling from a meat hook, reminding you of human intestines. In another, on a white sheet of paper, there is a black, round-like sculpture that looks like a pregnant belly that reads under it, “Race is not a risk factor. It is the lived experience of being a black woman in this society that is the risk factor.”And then there is his White House II sculpture-like piece, that made you feel small and questions the representation of our "White House." This exhibition was thought-provoking, engaging, and powerful. It made me feel sick, but I am grateful it was art like this that made me feel like that.
hauser & wirth, NEW YORK CITY, september 2020
In August, at the age of 99, artist Luchita Hurtado moved onto the next world. Before her passing Hurtado was still making work. At 99 she was still making work! That was the kind of artist she was. In September I found myself gallery hopping in Chelsea, running from one gallery to the next. I ran into Hauser & Wirth surprised to find her exhibition, Luchita Hurtado, Together Forever, featuring over 30 works from 1960 to 2020. In the last year, I have fallen in love with Hurtado's work and truly appreciated this show, especially in a time of isolation, self-reflection, and her recent passing.
About the Work + Reflection
Luchita Hurtado, Together Forever, is about "exiting the earth," as her son put it. It represents living and the relationship between, life, death, nature, and the soul. Hurtado herself helped curate the show in early 2020. Seeing multiple works from from over six decades of her life was moving. I loved her self-portraits, some with details of her face, while others appeared as shadows of herself. Her use of colors and her brush strokes were somewhat childlike and reminded me innocence and of my own childhood. I loved how she painted child birth in front of trees, which allowed the viewer to make their own connection to the life of a person and the life of trees.
I am attached to Hurtado's work because she used herself as the subject and her relationship with nature, like myself. She loved trees and life and you can instantly feel that when you look at her work. Hurtado not only painted and drew herself, she painted and drew child birth, from the perspective of a woman giving birth (herself)...which I find fascinating. Before Hurtado, I had never seen a painting or a drawing of child birth from a first person perspective. Her work is extremely intimate and beautiful and this show would only introduce me to more of it.
This exhibition made me feel warm. I felt Hurtado's spirit in that room. Her energy was present in every piece of work. That is true art.
Rest in power to an artist who loved art so much she made it up til her death.