Women Around Town, May 2023
Here are the gallery and museum exhibitions that I am recommending this month.
IN THE GALLERIES
Roberts Projects presents Tidal Wave of Colour, a new body of work by Wangari Mathenge. This series is composed of nine paintings that range from the intimate to the immersive. “The title takes its inspiration from civil rights icon Malcolm X, who used the phrase to capture the post-second World War zeitgeist of global revolution; between 1945 to 1955, ideas about liberation and independence permeated the world; and as a result, Africa, Asia, and Latin America revolted in pursuit of decolonization. Mathenge reinterprets iconic works etched deep into art history and in reworking the familiarity of the canon, Mathenge leans into the transcendent elements of her artistic practice, reclaiming a quiet power that resounds. In this new body of work, Mathenge references known classics such as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (1884), Grant Wood’s American Gothic (1930), and Peter Paul Ruben’s The Three Graces (1505). Modern artists who have become foundational to her lexicon, including Horace Pippin, Édouard Manet, Lucian Freud, also serve as muses. Mathenge’s interpretations incorporate her signature bright colors and inclusion of rich fabrics. More notably, her subjects are melanated, in direct contrast to the original sitter or sitters, and their surrounding environments are akin to stereotypical African milieus and filled with lush flora and fauna. Mathenge addresses historically entrenched painting traditions and genres such as the vanitas, ‘Orientalism,’ and the matter of the male gaze, and their influence on overlapping themes of memory, post-colonialism, domesticity, intimacy, and perception.” (RP) Thru June 3, 2023.
Also at Roberts, is Mia Middleton, Love Story. Middleton’s work explores interiority, memory and evocation. She creates small scale paintings where ephemeral moments are stripped of their context and suspended in time, intimating a narrative without creating one and inviting viewers into a psychological framework of uncertainty and discovery. The artists explains: “In a world where ideals and absolutes are delivered to us daily through devices, we barely control, what does it look like to surrender to imperfection, embrace discordance and ephemerality, or center our animal experience once again. There is certainly much discomfort there. In Love Story I am evoking a scene that takes place in a remote setting. The figures there are poised for pleasure or pain, movement, or stasis. It’s hard to determine. Domesticity mingles with wildness, simplicity with complexity, and through it, the body sits in the balance.A love story is a potent ideal. We look for an answer to ourselves, something through which we ascend – or escape – our physical bounds. Yet despite this hopeful belief, we know that purity can shatter, giving way to less transcendent feelings. It seems clear to me that there is little difference between reality and fantasy, memory and imagination, and a story can evolve in meaning continually over time. Using the body as the container for this mutability, Love Story is a place where a gesture, a stance, a look, a possession, becomes the whole world, if just for a moment, before shifting again.” – Mia Middleton, 2023”
Wild Mountain Thyme is the debut solo exhibition of Los Angeles painter Gwen O’Neil, on view at Anat Egbi Gallery on Wilshire Blvd. The exhibition is a love letter to Los Angeles, to its striking quality of light, its proximity to the ocean, its expansive skies and majestic mountains. The title, Wild Mountain Thyme refers to a Scottish/Irish folk song of the same name, occasionally known as “Purple Heather”—apt given O’Neil’s bold usage of purple. The song, a love song, was adapted and performed by countless artists and musicians over the last seventy years including James Taylor, The Byrds, and Joan Baez.
May 13 – June 24, 2023.
Jeffrey Deitch is currently exhibiting Alake Shilling: A Bug’s Life. In an ode to childhood and spring, Shilling creates ceramic sculptures. She explains, “I have been ruminating on my fascination with A Bug’s Life since I was a child, snuggling on my comfy pillows and thinking about being a bug in my own right. Living in my cocoon and interacting with the human world at my own discretion. Very little has changed in my world, and A Bug’s Life is reflective of that.” Shilling reconfigures the pop culture references of her youth with an intuitive use of materials and colors. Nostalgia and cheerfulness meet in her new ceramics—an ecosystem of friendly snails, ladybugs, worms, bumblebees, bunnies, butterflies, frogs and mushrooms. These fantasy figures evoke a range of human emotions, from loneliness and anxiety to ecstatic happiness. Thru June 3, 2023.
IN THE MUSEUMS
A compelling group exhibition will open later this month at The Lancaster Museum of Art and History. Sages, co-curated by Robert Benitez and Betty Ann Brown includes a representation of artists are “honored elders” who have both taught and exhibited their work during their long careers. Among the 19 artists whose work will grace the galleries are: Judy Baca, Suvan Geer, Gila Hirsch, Connie Jenkins, Joanne Julian, Sant Khalsa, Suzanne Lacy, Gerri McMillin, Rachel Rosenthal, Catherine Ruane, June Wayne, Ruth Weisberg, et al. Accompanying this exhibition will be an In Memoriam honoring 10 esteemed artists who are no longer with us, Craig Antrim, Bob Bassler, Hans Burkhardt, Carole Caroompas, Bee Colman, Dave Elder, Roland Reiss, Rachel Rosenthal, June Wayne, and Charles White. May 13-August 20, 2023
Opening Reception is Saturday, May 13; 4:00p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Women Defining Women in Contemporary Art of the Middle East and Beyond is one of many current exhibitions at LACMA. This exhibition presents 75 works by women artists who were born or live in what can broadly be termed Islamic societies. Frequently perceived as voiceless and invisible, they are neither. Each through her unique vision is fashioning not only her own definition of self but also helping to redefine and empower women everywhere and to challenge still-persistent stereotypes. Their art depicts a breadth of inventively and often ideologically conceived women’s imagery, bearing witness to rapidly shifting political developments and often accelerated social transformations taking place in lands extending from Africa to Western and Central Asia, as well as in diasporic communities. Their powerful narratives are embedded in their art, expressing both personal and universal concerns. Across generations and working in different media, the artists share a common sense of identity not exclusively “Middle Eastern” but certainly female, which is evident in their work. One of the artist’s whose work is seen below is Hayv Kahraman, who you can learn more about in this NPR article. Thru Sept. 24, 2023.
There is a fascinating exhibit at the UCLA Fowler Museum, Myrlande Constant: The Work of Radiance. The Work of Radiance is a retrospective of her groundbreaking 30-year-long career. Constant is an artist renowned for her monumental, hand-beaded textiles and this is the first U.S. museum exhibition devoted to the work of a Haitian female contemporary artist. Constant’s painstakingly beaded tapestries build on the drapo Vodou tradition and depict Haitians, Catholic saints, and Vodou spirits in both vast and intimate scenes of Haitian history and everyday life. Thru July 16, 2023.
An extensive exhibit of portraits by artist members of Women Painters West continues at California Heritage Museum in Santa Monica. Portraits delights with its extensive examples of the time honored genre in a variety of media and approaches.
Runs thru May 7, 2023
The UCLA Hammer museum presents Bridget Riley Drawings: From the Artist’s Studio.
Runs thru May 28, 2023
Barbara T. Smith: The Way to Be continues at the Getty Center Museum Research Library.
Runs thru July 16, 2023.
The Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) presents Metamorphosis: the Evolution of the Visions and Dreams, the art of Yolanda González.
Runs thru July 30, 2023.