Almine Rech opens an exhibition of works by artists who explore the possibilities of painting
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Almine Rech opens an exhibition of works by artists who explore the possibilities of painting
Huma Bhabha, Untitled, 2013. Rubber, cork, metal, 33 x 304.8 x 86.4 cm. 13 x 120 x 34 1/8 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Almine Rech. Photography: Melissa Castro Duarte.

LONDON.- Marcus Jahmal brings together fourteen contemporary American artists whose works explore the possibilities of painting.

‘Different strokes’ includes artists who examine the parameters of painting, not only by questioning ideas of content or form, but also through probing the nature of painting in and of itself. Marcus Jahmal, who has worked closely with Almine Rech since 2018, was drawn to the idea of how an exhibition could bring together a group of artists whose work has challenged him to consider these questions within his own artistic practice. The show functions as a hypothesis, a temporary tonic, to the concerns which continue to motivate artists to paint, whether in two or three dimensions. To that end, the presentation includes wall-based works as well as sculptures, so that painting can be imagined as a sensibility and an outlook, as well as a set of technical limits. The exhibition includes recent works by artists spanning different generations and who are based mainly in Marcus Jahmal’s place of residence—New York.

Artists featured in the exhibition include:

Huma Bhabha, a Pakistani-American sculptor based in Poughkeepsie, New York, who displays two works in the show. Best known for her use of earthy materials such as clay, wire, cork, and scraps of construction wood, Bhabha’s work oscillates between figuration and abstraction, evoking what the artist has described as ‘eternal concerns,’ from colonialism and displacement to memory and identity.

Katherine Bradford, who lives and works in New York and works mainly with acrylic on canvas, exhibits two paintings made in 2020. Bradford creates chromatic vibrations with radiant deep purples, aqueous turquoises and electric oranges that emerge of iridescent darkness. Figures wonder through flat worlds – floating, appearing and disappearing again in moments that seem to be recalled from a distant memory or dream.

Born in 1989 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sedrick Chisom presents four paintings in ‘Different strokes.’ Beginning from a drawn, imagined atmosphere translated into colour-saturated landscapes, Chisom then takes cues from a wide variety of references, each carefully chosen. These range from everyday visual sources such as film stills and postcards to Victorian illustrations, civil war photography and images from Black culture, as well as art historical sources including Goya and medieval Christian painting.

Gerasimos Floratos, born in 1986, lives and works in New York City. Floratos grew up enmeshed within the overwhelming sensorial experience that is Times Square, the pounding commercial and touristic heart of the city, a place the artist refers to as ‘the center of the center’. To this day, his studio is stationed there, where he continues to work and live. Surrounded by the restlessness of midtown Manhattan, Floratos uses the hyper-charged atmosphere of his neighborhood as a springboard for deeper explorations of the urban matrix and the human subconscious.

Living and working in Poughkeepsie, New York, American artist James Fox presents two paintings in ‘Different strokes.’ Fox’s paintings depict distorted portraits inspired by pop culture, art history, cartooning and movies.

Drawing inspiration from emotional trauma and femininity, Haley Josephs paints solitary figures in fantastical yet foreboding environments that transcend time and space. The bold, almost daring, portraits amalgamate Josephs’ intimate and personal narratives with the universal human condition. Josephs displays two recent paintings in the exhibition.

Chris Martin presents a work entitled ‘Vein Melter (Came For The Funk, Stayed For The Funk)’. Having exhibited in institutions such as the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Martin draws inspiration from a heterogeneous array of cultural traditions. The artist privileges stylistic diversity and immediacy over predetermined aesthetic ideas, generating a form of art that can be as primal as it is knowing, as vibrantly joyful as it is meditative.

New York-born, Dominican-American artist Kenny Rivero presents two paintings. In the artist’s own words, Rivero’s paintings ‘integrate numbers, letters, symbols, structurally impossible spaces, and disembodied figures within a seemingly unhinged composition that begins as a formal exploration of color, light, drawing, and texture.’

Fellow New York- based artist Mosie Romney, born in 1994, uses materials such as sand, chalk, pastel, oil paint and spray paint on canvas. Romney’s palette includes dark hues that inhabit spaces alongside jarring, brighter colours, creating surreal landscapes that, in the artist’s words, simulate ‘fantasies of black life’.

Peter Saul presents a work on paper, created in 2020. Peter Saul has a unique way of transforming historical painting with the colours and clashes of today. Saul is consistently attentive to world’s chaos—references to The Vietnam War, the struggles for civil rights, American presidents (from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump), ecology, junk food and cigarettes are among the powerful themes he has addressed in his work. Saul’s critically acclaimed solo exhibition at The New Museum in New York, ‘Crime and Punishment,’ recently closed on January 3, 2021.

Spencer Sweeney was born in Philadelphia in 1973 and lives and works in New York City. Sweeney’s paintings bring together references to popular culture as well as the history of art, juxtaposing Neo-Expressionist brushwork with a fauvist palette. Popular experimental and electronic music, as well as its urban roots and current evolutions in the city of New York, are the main sources of inspiration for Sweeney. These points of focus inform the artist’s improvisational painting technique, which he attributes to the influence of jazz music.

Looking at the principal elements of painting in a broader sense, Quiara Torres exhibits two textile works made of oil on burlap, entitled ‘Buena Suerte’ and ‘Mona Visa’. Torres is a multi-media artist living and working in New York City, and explores Native rituals from her Dominican Native American heritage. Touching on themes of colonialism, the sacred and material visual culture, Torres salvages burlap sacks, the waste products of colonial imports, re-contextualising the material and its representative symbol into the world of painting.

Born in 1946 in Philadelphia, Stanley Whitney lives and works in New York city. Whitney’s painting explores formal assemblages of chromatic landscapes, inspired by polyrhythmic music. Through shifting grids of multihued, directional brush strokes, Whitney often cites jazz and African music as sources of inspiration for his work. He performatively ‘dances’ the execution of his paintings, mimicking a ‘call and response’ that guides his decisions on colours, their clashes and harmonies. Whitney is displaying a gouache work on paper, executed in 2015.

Finally, in addition to his role in curating the exhibition, Marcus Jahmal also presents two of his own recent paintings in ‘Different strokes.’ Jahmal’s paintings synthesize a diverse range of inspirations and autobiography, drawing from photographs, art history, and personal memories. Jahmal's works move fluidly between genres spanning architectural interiors and still life, as well as landscape and portraiture.

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