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Alexander Berggruen opens an exhibition of works by four artists
Dustin Hodges, LEP_25, 2018. Oil and graphite on linen, 60 x 60 in. (152.4 x 152.4 cm.).

NEW YORK, NY.- Alexander Berggruen is presenting Quarters: Anne Buckwalter, Dustin Hodges, JJ Manford, Brittney Leeanne Williams. A 3D virtual tour of the exhibition can be seen here.

The four artists in this exhibition share an attention to the familiar, and a glimpse into an inner, secret life. Anne Buckwalter’s work exists on a smaller scale and deals in the mystery of the female body, while exploring and disrupting traditional gender roles. Dustin Hodges’s paintings harness an intimate feel in an archival and sometimes cinematic manner, as though chronicling a specific but esoteric history. JJ Manford’s work transforms seemingly ordinary scenes into the realm of the sublime. Brittney Leeanne Williams’s paintings command an awareness of the body and surrounding environment, conflating location and time.

The artists in Quarters approach the subjects of familiarity and proximity from different perspectives. There exists between the works in this show a shared curiosity about the elevation of familiar objects and spaces into a kind of personalized supernatural, and even anachronistic, language.

Anne Buckwalter often places figures or objects in ambiguous situations, re-examining human behavior through her distinct lens. In the present body of work, she uses tension and humor to recontextualize various vestiges of one’s personal quarters. Composure contains more docile objects; meanwhile, a pair of fuzzy handcuffs lies at the bottom of a twin bed in Twins. For Buckwalter, beds embrace the compelling intersection of conflicting elements — consciousness versus unconsciousness, sickness versus sexuality, and comfort versus discomfort. Buckwalter examines female identity through familiar, old-fashioned, and wholesome objects (quilts, floral patterns, and lace doilies, for instance) paired against objects of eroticism, hygiene, or even vulgarity (used condoms, tampons, and sex toys).

Dustin Hodges’s paintings in Quarters are each titled with the prefix LEP, short for Lepidoptera, referencing the order of insects that includes butterflies and moths. Hodges, drawing influence from the French symbolist Odilon Redon, employs thin oil and graphite layers over pigmented grounds to render animals, elements of nature, and cartoon imagery. In reviewing Hodges’s 2014 exhibition at Miguel Abreu Gallery in Artforum, Scott Roben noted: “the show feels less invested in elaborating its fictional context, which it openly declares, than in examining painting’s ability to generate, reveal, and obscure it.” (1) In the present body of work, Hodges continues to explore painting’s role in mixing fictional elements with art historic references and known facets from our natural world. A wash of oil provides a veil to the composition in LEP_30. Here, close inspection reveals a meticulous rendering of a faint lion in graphite nestled into the swooping geometric hold that seems to exist from a comparatively freer expulsion of medium onto the canvas’s surface.

At the core of his practice, JJ Manford aims to create ecstatic paintings. In an interview with Katherine Bradford, he discussed a key interest in “the alchemical potential of paint, and its transmutation into a conductor of a kind of bioluminescence.” He posted the query: “how can you take an inert substance and make it appear alive and mysterious?” (2) In Sea Dogs, Manford has split his composition into three vertical chapters. The scenes in each segment, though seemingly from disparate locales, exist in conversation with one another through their related palettes and echoing geometric gestures. The surface, alive with a slick oil stick sheen over the toothy burlap weave of its support, indeed seems imbued with light and mystery.

Brittney Leeanne Williams, through metaphysical red figures and bodily forms, explores the feminine and black identity in her work. Her choice to render subjects in red transcends certain biases placed on traditionally-rendered black bodies in image. It also calls upon the vibrancy of ambulance and police vehicle sirens that command authority and attention. This type of signal requires recognition and can choreograph space and time. To this extent, just as a siren can shape the pace of a street, beckoning those nearby to become witness, Williams is interested in slowing down an audience and capturing their attention through red as a signal in her own work. In A Red Baptism and a Red Drowning, a rich scarlet bleeds from the figure’s back into a hazy sky, while the shimmery red water underneath dissipates into a sun-kissed, bright blue bay in the distance. As Williams has said of her own practice, “In my work, I’m interested in addressing the various aspects of identity—race, gender, and spirituality. I am driven by personal self-exploration, balanced with who I am in relation to my surroundings. Delving into the nuances of my identity causes a constant cycle of observing this internal and external relationship.” (3)

Anne Buckwalter (b. 1987) received a BFA from Tyler School of Art in 2010 and an MFA from Maine College of Art in 2012. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Galveston Artist Residency in Galveston, TX; the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Alberta, Canada; Hewnoaks Artist Colony in Lovell, Maine; and the Vermont Studio Center. Anne is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant, the Albert K. Murray Fine Arts Grant, and the Roderick Dew Travel Award. Her paintings have been featured in New American Paintings, Create Magazine, and The Jealous Curator, and her work has been exhibited in Boston, Montréal, Toronto, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, and Rome, among other cities. Her work was included in the 2018 Portland Museum of Art Biennial in Portland, Maine. Buckwalter lives and works in Philadelphia.

Dustin Hodges (b. 1984) received a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University in 2006, and went on to study at Städelschule, Hochschule für Bildende Künste, in Frankfurt, 2006-2007. He received an MFA from Bard College in 2012. Hodges has had solo exhibitions at galleries including: Soft Opening, London, UK (2019); Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA (2018); Galeria Mascota, Mexico City, Mexico (2016); Off Vendome, Düsseldorf, Germany (2015); and Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York, NY (2014). He has exhibited in group shows at: Richard Telles Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA (2018); The Meeting, New York, NY (2017); Eli Ping Frances Perkins, New York, NY (2016); Galerie Max Mayer, Düsseldorf, Germany (2015); Kensington Church, Montreal, Canada (2015); and Taylor Macklin Gallery, Zürich, Switzerland (2014), among others. Hodges lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.

JJ Manford (b. 1983) received a BA from Cornell University, in 2006, a Post Baccalaureate degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an MFA from Hunter College in 2013. He has exhibited at Derek Eller Gallery in New York, NY; John Davis Gallery in Hudson, NY.; Freight and Volume Gallery, Canada; One River Gallery in Englewood, NJ; and Geoffrey Young Gallery in Great Barrington, MA., to name a few. JJ co-founded the Brooklyn-based artist collective Underdonk, and has organized projects independently, which have been featured in Hyperallergic, Two Coats of Paint, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and The New Yorker Magazine. He has led a critique as an MFASO visiting artist at Hunter College, NY, and as a visiting Painting Critic for Bruce High Quality Foundation University. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute and at Borough of Manhattan Community College. Manford lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Brittney Leeanne Williams (b. 1990) attended The School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 2008-2009, and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 2017. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, and Venice, Italy (at the Venice Biennale). Williams is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Emerging Artist Grant. Williams was a 2017-2018 artist-in-residence at University of Chicago and has held residencies at Chicago Artists Coalition and Hyde Park Art Center. Her set design for the short film Self-Deportation has been featured at film festivals in the US and internationally, including at Anthology Film Archives (NYC) and the Pineapple Underground Film Festival (Hong Kong). Williams lives and works in Chicago, IL.

Quarters: Anne Buckwalter, Dustin Hodges, JJ Manford, Brittney Leeanne Williams will run at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from March 18-April 28, 2020.

(1) Scott Roben, “Critics’ Picks: Dustin Hodges” in Artforum, January 2014.
(2) “Katherine Bradford Interviews JJ Manford” in On Verge, November 14, 2014.
(3) Caira Moreira-Brown, “Identity, Psyche and Gender Through the Black Body: A Review of ‘Show Me Yours’ at Monique Meloche” in New City Art, June 12, 2019.

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