LOS ANGELES, CA.- Regen Projects
presents an exhibition of new paintings by New York based artist Glenn Ligon. This is the artist's third solo exhibition at the gallery and marks the 20th Anniversary of Regen Projects. The exhibition presents a suite of new paintings entitled "Figure" that continue Ligon's investigation of James Baldwin's seminal 1953 essay "Stranger in the Village." The themes in the essay cultural identity, the decipherability of the other, and the burden of history find a conceptual and formal resonance in Ligon's work.
The paintings were made by silkscreening an image of an existing painting onto variously colored backgrounds and flocking them with coaldust, which built up the text while simultaneously obscuring it. Passages where the silkscreen printed lightly produced gaps and grey areas that interrupt the paintings' surfaces and further degrade the text. As images of an image, these paintings move between legibility and abstraction, exemplifying Ligon's interest in the mutability of text and shifting views of notions of the self.
Glenn Ligon has a wide-ranging art practice in multiple media, including text-based painting, neon, print, installation, and video. His work engages social and personal histories, memory, and the ways in which groups and individuals are represented revealing the complexities and subtleties of social constructs of race, language, sexuality, and gender. Ligon uses text, language, and imagery from a wide range of popular culture sources, from stand-up comedy routine and children's coloring and schoolbooks, to slave narratives and the literary works of James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Genet, and Gertrude Stein. Ligon alters and revises these materials in paintings that often repeat phrases in stencil or silkscreen; neon wall pieces that isolate a single phrase or word; and installations that incorporate paintings, prints, neon, wallpaper, and sculptural elements. These works oscillate between pointedness and dissolution the original text and imagery literally become blurred through overlapping words and purposely smeared or muted surfaces. Ligon's practice of appropriation changes the meanings of his source materials and investigates the ways in which language and imagery function as social, political, and personal tools in society.
Glenn Ligon's work is included in the Obamas' choice of artworks currently on loan to the White House, making him the youngest artist to ever receive this honor. He is also the latest recipient of the Joyce Alexander Wein Artist prize. Ligon's work has been the subject of exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. Recent solo exhibitions include the Power Plant, Toronto (2005); the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001); the Kunstverein München, Germany (2001), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2000); the St. Louis Art Museum (2000); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (1998); and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1996). Ligon's work is represented in many public collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; the Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.