kara walker - negress notes (from series) victoria miro

EACH FALL BRINGS A NEW SLATE of art exhibitions, usually the best of the calendar year. This season, commercial galleries are showing an interesting mix of African American and African diasporic artists working in a range of mediums and addressing a diversity of issues.

Following William Pope.L‘s “Trinket” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (March 20 – June 28, 2015), the largest museum presentation of his work to date, two Los Angeles galleries are mounting complementary shows of the multidisciplinary artist’s work. Veterans McArthur Binion, Frank Bowling, Howardena Pindell and Senga Nengudi have work on view in solo exhibitions. Contemporary mid-career figures Renee Stout, William Villalongo and Nari Ward, are showing new and recent work, too.

Promising emerging artists are also featured in solo exhibitions at galleries across the country, including Bethany Collins, a 2013-14 artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem; Oscar Murillo, a relatively new talent whose fast rise has been celebrated in the mainstream art world by some and scrutinized by others; and Ebony G. Patterson, whose work is featured on the hit TV series “Empire.”

Meanwhile, Kara Walker has two solo shows in the UK this season and Stanley Whitney is presenting his first exhibition in Italy. And in South Africa, U.S.-based artist Hank Willis Thomas has assembled a dynamic international roster of black contemporary artists for “Young, Gifted and Black,” an exhibition that responds to today’s #blacklivesmatter movement while bearing in mind the civil rights era from which it was borne.

Herewith, a selection of fall 2015’s most compelling gallery exhibitions:

live - glenn ligon
Installation view of “Glenn Ligon: Live” at Regen Projects, Los Angeles | via Regen Projects

Through Oct. 10, 2015
1. “GLENN LIGON: Live” Regen Projects | Los Angeles
Glenn Ligon has been interpreting comedian Richard Pryor’s work for years, first in a series of paintings in which he stenciled phrases from Pryor’s jokes (1994 – 2007). His latest project is “Live” is a seven-screen silent video installation drawn from “Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip (1982).” In an earlier presentation of the installation, Ligon said: “I’ve removed the sound from the concert so really you just have the body performing, and Pryor was a very physical comedian. A lot of his comedy involved the body and I was interested in how the body can communicate without sound. How a meaning is conveyed, even though you don’t hear words.”


RAYMOND SAUNDERS, “Untitled (RS15-026),” (mixed media on panel). | via Laura Schlesinger Gallery

Through Oct. 17, 2015
2. “RAYMOND SAUNDERS: Recent Works” @ Laura Schlesinger Gallery | Santa Monica, Calif.
Defined by juxtaposition and a mix of materials, Raymond Saunders‘s paintings “combine energetic and dissonant mixtures of drawing, collage, assemblage and gestural bursts of paint. The personal scribbles, found objects, and enigmatic symbols are as revealing about his working methods, as they are subtle in encoding messages about politics, race and his life experiences.” The exhibition features large and small works. View online catalog


mcarthur binion - dna_sketch_ix
MCARTHUR BINION, “dna: sketch: IX,” 2015 (oil paint stick and paper on board). | via Galerie Lelong

Through Oct. 17, 2015
3. “MCARTHUR BINION: Re:Mine” @ Galerie Lelong | New York, N.Y.
A first glance, McArthur Binion‘s paintings are abstract and minimalist, but in fact, the works are bursting with narratives and private information about the artist. The exhibition features new works and the title, “Re:Mine,” “refers to the artist’s practice of both hiding and excavating biographical information in his paintings, claiming and reclaiming personal and cultural history. Copies of the artist’s birth certificate and pages from his address book are physically laid down as a self-described ‘under surface’ of the paintings on which he applies multiple layers of paint stick in vertical and horizontal strokes.” Born in Mississippi, Binion lives in Chicago.


William Villalongo - Olympia's Window - detail
WILLIAM VILLALONGO, Detail of “Olympia’s Window,” 2015 (acrylic, paper and velvet flocking on wood panel). | via Susan Inglett Gallery

Through Oct. 17, 2015
4. “WILLIAM VILLALONGO: Mind, Body & Soul” @ Susan Inglett Gallery | New York, N.Y.
This exhibition of recent works coincides with the publication of “William Villalongo: Bodies, Histories and Inversions” in which LeRonn Brooks says Villaglongo’s paintings “are ultimately visions of modernity’s possibilities. His allusions to African masks, and Renaissance perspective, suggests a world of mythological and pedagogical continuities.” Born in Hollywood, Fla., Villalongo lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.


Senga Nengudi - Performance_Piece
SENGA NENGUDI, “Performance Piece (detail),” Activated by Maren Hassinger, 1978 (Triptych, silver gelatin print). | Photo by Harmon Outlaw, Courtesy of the Artist and Thomas Erben Gallery, New York via Dominque Levy Gallery

Through Oct. 24, 2015
5. SENGA NENGUDI @ Dominique Levy Gallery | New York, N.Y.
A conceptual and performance artist who trained as a dancer, Senga Nengudi lives and works in Colorado Springs, Colo. She shaped her practice in Los Angeles where she was ensconced in the 1970s Black Arts Movement and collaborated with fellow artists. During that time, she developed “a style of performance in which the human body entered into a relationship with sculptural constellations of worn nylon mesh pantyhose, sand, and other malleable, ordinary, or discarded materials.” For her first exhibition at Dominque Levy, Nengudi is presenting a series of recent sculptures and early performance stills.


Cedric Nunn_Unsettled_55
CEDRIC NUNN, “Looking out towards Grahamstown. A descendant of the warrior chiefs who led five of the nine wars in the 100 Years War of Resistance against the Afrikaner and British settlers. KwaNdlambe Village, Peddie,” 2012 | Courtesy David Krut Projects, New York. Copyright Cedric Nunn

Through Oct. 24, 2015
6. CEDRIC NUNN, “Unsettled: One Hundred Years War of Resistance by Xhosa Against Boer and British” @ David Krut Projects | New York, N.Y.
Recognized for his apartheid-era photography, Cedric Nunn “aims to instigate social change and highlight lesser seen aspects of society with his photography.” This exhibition features 61 hand-printed photographs that revisit the nine wars the Xhosa people were subjected to over a 100-year period by examining the status of the land that was “occupied, desired, defended, lost and won.”


EBONY G. PATTERSON, Installation view of “In Rest- Dead Treez,” 2015 (mixed media jacquard weave tapestry with handmade shoes and crocheted leaves). | via Monique Meloche Gallery

Through Oct. 24, 2015
7. EBONY G. PATTERSON: unearthing treez” @ Monique Meloche Gallery | Chicago
Expanding on her ongoing series “Dead Treez,” Jamaican-born Ebony G. Patterson is presenting a selection of new hand-embellished, mixed media tapestries. The gallery describes the works thus: “Focusing on the body to impart the paradoxical relationship between Jamaica’s traditional expectations of manhood and the flamboyant aesthetics of its dancehall culture, Patterson creates a window onto working-class Jamaican society.” Patterson lives and works in Lexington, Ky.


Thompson, The Milky Way-IMAGE ONLY
BOB THOMPSON, “The Milky Way,” 1964 (oil on canvas). | © Estate of Bob Thompson; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Through Oct. 31, 2015
8. “Naked at the Edge: BOB THOMPSON” @ Michael Rosenfeld Gallery | New York, N.Y.
Born and raised in Kentucky, Bob Thompson‘s (1937-1966) expressive, color-rich figurative and landscape paintings are influenced by his extensive, early 1960s travels in Paris, Ibiza, Rome. According to the gallery, “Thompson actively appropriated the work of European masters including Goya, Poussin, and Piero della Francesca, adapting their compositions and subject matter to his own visionary style and often turning idyllic, classical scenes into contemporary allegorical nightmares.” Thompson had a relatively short career. He was only 28 when he died. The gallery represents the artist’s estate and the exhibition features a selection of works from the its holdings.


BETHANY COLLINS, “Black and Blue Dictionary Webster’s New American Dictionary (1965),” 2014. | via Richard Gray Gallery

Through Oct. 31, 2015
9. “BETHANY COLLINS: Inquiry’s End” @ Richard Gray Gallery | Chicago
Based in New York and Atlanta, Bethany Collins‘s practice considers the intersection of race and language. A 2014 Artist-in-Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, she “takes the material of the classroom—paper, Pink Pearl erasers, graphite, old dictionaries and, more broadly, language itself—to create spare, poetically charged works on paper, objects and wall-based installations.” “Inquiry’s End,” is her first solo exhibition in Chicago and is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalog.


howardena pindell - untitled no. 32
HOWARDENA PINDELL, “Untitled #32,” 2004 (mixed media on board). | via Honor Fraser

Through Oct. 31, 2015
10. HOWARDENA PINDELL @ Honor Fraser | Los Angeles
Howard Pindell‘s first solo exhibition on the West Coast draws on five decades of her practice. Described by the gallery as a “significant figure in the discourse around abstract painting, conceptual art, and identity politics, Pindell has explored the potential for abstract painting and process-based practices to address social issues throughout her career.” This exhibition focuses on two areas of work: her abstracts—paintings and constructions on canvas, paper and board; and an ongoing series of photographic prints that combine photography, video and drawing that she calls “video drawings.” Born in Philadelphia, Pindell is based in New York.


frank bowling - frolic
FRANK BOWLING, “Frolic,” 2014 (acrylic on canvas). | via Marc Selwyn Fine Art

Through Oct. 31, 2015
11. FRANK BOWLING, OBE RA @ Marc Selwyn Fine Art | Beverly Hills, Calif.
Spanning several decades, the exhibition presents a pair of Frank Bowling‘s early map paintings as well as his more recent, purely abstract paintings. Also featured is a “monumentally sized work” titled “Mel Edwards Decides” (1968), which the gallery says references artist Melvin Edwards decision not to participate in an exhibition of African American Art at the Whitney Museum. Born in British Guyana, Bowling divides his time between studios in London and Brooklyn, N.Y.


nari ward - lehmann maupin 2015
Installation view of “Nari Ward: Breathing Directions.” | Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong via Lehmann Maupin

Through Nov. 1, 2015
12. “NARI WARD: Breathing Directions” @ Lehmann Maupin, 201 Chrystie Street | New York, N.Y.
Jamaican-born Nari Ward lives and works in New York. The gallery describes the thrust of his practice as “a longstanding interest in the context and history of places in which he works, as well as the materials, objects, and phenomena he finds in those locations.” In this exhibition, Ward is presenting a series of new “Breathing Panels,” large-scale abstract works on copper influenced by the symbolism and histories of both the Congo and Savannah, Ga.


Also this season, the Perez Art Museum in Miami is presenting “Sun Splashed” (Nov. 19, 2015 – Feb. 21, 2016), Ward’s largest and most significant exhibition to date.

ifeoma anyaeji - skoto gallery
IFEOMA AMYAEJI, Installation view, in foreground, “Owu,” 2015 (plastic yarn, twine, wool, and found objects); in background “Eze fuo eze anochi – When a king dies another replaces him,” 2013-15 (plasto yarn, twine, wire mesh and bubbles). | via Skoto Gallery


Through Nov. 7, 2015
13. “IFEOMA ANYAEJI: Owu (Threading)” @ Skoto Gallery | New York, N.Y.
Nigerian-born Ifeoma Anyaeji is presenting a series of recent mixed-media sculpture composed of found materials—biodegradable bags and bottles that she has up-cycled. According to the gallery, her work is “dense with visual complexity that reflects an awareness of a vast array of both formal and inherited traditions while exploring their aesthetic, sensual, and visual content to assert a different declaration, and a new way of making art.”

kara walker - victoria miro
KARA WALKER, Installation view of “Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First,” at Victoria Miro, London | via Victoria Miro Gallery


Through Nov. 7, 2015
14. “KARA WALKER: Go to Hell or Atlanta, Whichever Comes First” @ Victoria Miro Gallery | London
Often relying on challenging and provocative images, Kara Walker‘s practice examines issues of race, gender, power and subjugation through the lens of the antebellum South. In the first of two solo exhibitions with Victoria Miro, Kara Walker is presenting a new body of work inspired by the fraught racial history Atlanta, the Southern city where she spent her teenage years. Two major installations created for the show reference Stone Mountain, a granite monolith that features an unfinished carving of Confederate generals on horseback.

Also at the UK gallery this fall, Walker’s work will appear in “Forces in Nature,” a group show curated by Hilton Als. In November at its Mayfair location, Victoria Miro will mount an exhibition of sketches, preparatory drawings and models related to the theater production of Norma that Walker directed in May and June 2015, during the 56th Venice Biennale.


Omar Victor Diop - Frederick Douglass - Young, Gifted and Black
OMAR VICTOR DIOP, “Frederick Douglass,” 2015 (pigment ink jet printing on Hahnemuhle paper by Harman, Edition of 8). | via Goodman Gallery

Through Nov. 11, 2015
15. “Young, Gifted, and Black: Curated by Hank Willis Thomas” @ Goodman Gallery | Johannesburg
Borrowing its name from the Nina Simone song written in tribute to the memory of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, this group exhibition curated by New York-based conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas considers today’s climate while reflecting on the era that inspired its title. In so doing, 19 contemporary artists, including Nina Chanel Abney, Bethany Collins, Omar Victor Diop, Yashua Klos, Toyin Odutola, Ebony G. Patters, Adam Pendleton, Jacolby Satterwhite, and Shinique Smith explore the through line between the civil rights era and the #blacklivesmatter movement.


stanley whitney - tango - lisson gallery
STANLEY WHITNEY, “Tango,” 2014 (Oil on linen). | via Lisson Gallery

Through Nov. 13, 2015
16. “STANLEY WHITNEY: Paintings” @ Lisson Gallery | Milan, Italy
A blend of order and irregularity, Stanley Whitney’s square-structured abstracts are characterized by a lyrical march of vivid color. Overlapping with his first solo museum exhibition in New York at the Studio Museum in Harlem (through Oct. 25), Whitney is presenting new paintings and works on paper for his debut show in Italy, “the country whose influence has proved vital in his five decade-long career.”


OSCAR MURILLO, “catalyst, 1987,” 2015 (clay, c-print, and wood). | Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, New York/London

Oct. 10 – Nov. 20, 2015
17. “OSCAR MURILLO: binary function” @ David Zwirner Gallery | London, UK
For his first exhibition at David Zwirner’s London gallery, Colombia-born Oscar Murillo is presenting new paintings and drawings and a new video projection. According to the gallery, “binary functions, the exhibition title “refers to the pairings that permeate Murillo’s multifaceted practice. For the artist, the notion of the binary is not oppositional; instead, these pairings work and play against one another to create a dialogue that exceeds individual works.”


william pope.l - desert - steve turner contemporary
“Desert, a solo exhibition by Pope.L is being mounted in conjunction with the exhibition “Forest,” at Susanne Vielmetter Projects.

Oct. 17 – Dec. 5, 2015
18. “WILLIAM POPE.L: Desert” @ Steve Turner Contemporary | Los Angeles
A “visual and performance-theater artist and educator who makes culture out of contraries,” William Pope.L is presenting sculpture, drawings, new photographs and a new film featuring Joe Gans, the first African American World Boxing champion. The exhibition is presented in conjunction with “Forest” at Susanne Vielmetter. Pope.L describes “Desert” and “Forest” as exploring an in between: “a space, both figurative and literal, between art works, ideas, bodies, and institutions.”


WILLIAM POPE.L, “Gold People Are Black Children,” 2015 (oil and hammer on linen). | Courtesy the Artist, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, Galerie Catherine Bastide, Brussels, and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects. © Pope.L. Photo by Robert Wedemeyer

Oct. 23 – Dec. 5, 2015
19. “WILLIAM POPE.L: Forest” @ Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects | Los Angeles
Chicago-based multidisciplinary artist William Pope.L‘s first solo exhibition at Susanne Vielmetter surveys his “object-based” practice over the past two decades, presenting paintings and sculptures in an “architectural installation.” The exhibition coincides with Pope.L’s “Desert” exhibition at Steve Turner Contemporary.


RENEE STOUT, “Lay Your Hand On The Radio,” 2009-2014 (mixed media with found objects). | Courtesy of Hemphill Arts

Through Dec. 19, 2015
20. “RENEE STOUT: Wild World” @ Hemphill Fine Art | Washington, D.C.
Working in a range of mediums from painting and photography to assemblage, Renee Stout “confronts difficult realities in her personal life and attempts to better understand the human condition.” Always looking forward and beyond the moment, her work is metaphoric and spiritual, responding to today’s “Wild World” of gun violence and the demise of cultural and societal heritage via a Room of Spirits and with mechanical devices composed of found objects capable of conjuring magical, divine energy. Stout lives and works in Washington, D.C.


GORDON PARKS, “Airline Terminal, Atlanta, Georgia,” 1956 | Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

Nov. 4 – Dec. 20, 2015
21. “GORDON PARKS: Segregation Story” @ Salon 94 Freemans | New York, N.Y.
In 1956, Gordon Parks traveled to Shady Grove, Ala., where he spent time photographing the members of an ordinary African American family. The color portfolio documenting the indignities of the Jim Crow South was published in Life magazine. The exhibition presents a selection of images from “Segregation Story,” his evocative series depicting the family’s perseverance and dignity despite daily encounters with racial and economic injustice. This season, Salon 94 and the Sheldon Museum of Art at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, join a selection of venues that have presented compelling project. CT


TOP IMAGE: KARA WALKER, “Negress Notes (from series),” 2015. | via Victoria Miro Gallery


Fall Exhibitions: 42 Must-See Museum Shows Featuring Black Artists

Where My Girls At? 20 Black Female Artists with Solo Exhibitions on View this Fall


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