For the 2021 edition of Frieze New York, Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of four signature works by four gallery artists—Derek Boshier, Al Loving, Howardena Pindell, and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Working in reaction to the thin, impersonal surfaces of minimalism, Pop art, and Color Field painting, these artists returned to familiar modes of “painterly” handling of pigments, while opening up new paths to emotional and political expression.
The presentation includes Derek Boshier’s monumental wool tapestry America, America (2018). The artist—a foundational member of Britain’s 1960s Pop Art scene—has spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where he has continued to combine popular imagery into visually stunning and intellectually confounding works. In this iconic tapestry, Boshier turns his attention to a schizophrenic America—one with multiple, warring ideas about itself. On one side is a halcyon fantasy of baseball games, happy families, burly frontiersmen, sailboats, and the Iwo Jima Memorial. On the other, a dizzying mix of social problems. A hooded Klansman overlooks a sea of signs that declare “Black Lives Matter,” as well as signs pleading for equal pay. These opposing Americas are confined within two heads in profile. The two figures are almost in dialogue, yet, consumed by their real and imagined visions of America, communication may be hopeless.
The presentation will also include Al Loving’s Untitled (1982). Loving’s early hard-edged abstractions established him as the first African American in history to secure a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum in 1968, the same year he moved to New York. His response to his early success was to change his practice radically, abandoning Apollonian notions of centralized composition, figure/ground separation, and pictorial frame. In Untitled, the artist overlaps layers cut and torn paper in intuitive, albeit surprising ways. Thin strips of brightly colored paper run perpendicular to the dense stripes of the fabric that serves as the work’s background. Torn paper forms interrupt the composition’s angularity, introducing sensuous curves along with new colors and textures. The joyous, musical work reflects Loving’s appreciation for beauty. “I would like my art to be liked by 2-year-old kids and 80-year-old people,” he once remarked, defining beauty, not as something frivolous, but as something deeply connected to human feeling.
Howardena Pindell’s unstretched canvas, Autobiography: India (Shiva/Ganges) (1985), is an exemplary work from the artist’s difficult but formative Autobiography series. In 1979, a car accident left Pindell with acute memory loss. The crash, and her subsequent rehabilitation, literalized a metaphorical process of destruction and reconstruction that she had begun exploring in her work of the preceding decade, cutting and sewing strips of canvas into swirling patterns, then building up the surfaces in elaborate stages. She had diligently collected postcards and photos for decades preceding the accident, relics that only revealed their full usefulness after the crash. In Autobiography: India (Shiva/Ganges), she integrates postcards collected on a trip to India into the asymmetrical canvas. The work is a soft pink, the color of a lily-spotted pond that Pindell encountered in the Southern Indian countryside. India has always maintained particular significance to the artist, forming a part of her distant ancestry. She recalls her time in India as deeply ambivalent, a result of the country’s staggering natural beauty and brutal poverty.
Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s poetic, curious, and profound works often recast Native American mythological figures within the context of contemporary civilizational dilemmas. Like many of her works, the monumental diptych, War Horse in Babylon (2005), is laden with mythos and symbolism. Instead of the Trickster, however, Smith features the Christian devil. The scene is turbulent: blood pours from a punctured heart, cascading down a horse’s back onto piles of human skulls. A woman, plucked straight from Picasso’s Guernica, lets out a cry of panic and grief. Just as Picasso’s depiction of the frenzy and suffering of war continues to serve as a cautionary image, Smith’s harrowing painting visualizes the catastrophe of an even more basic existential problem. On the left panel, Smith depicts a barrel of our toxic waste. Science, however, is not employed to process and amend the waste, but rather to escape it. On the right panel, an astronaut floats off into the distance, leaving the skulls and spoiled earth behind.
Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to represent Derek Boshier, Howardena Pindell, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and the estate of Al Loving.