GAVLAK Los Angeles is pleased to present These Are a Few of My Favorite Things, a group exhibition curated by Michael Sherman featuring Devin Morris, Taha Heydari, Latoya Hobbs, Curtis Talwst Santiago, Tony Shore, Shan Wallace, Amani Lewis, Taina Cruz, Jordan Greenblatt, Ariston Jacks, Monsieur Zohore, James Williams II, Antonio Scott Nichols, Lindsay Adams.
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things is an exhibition regarding vantage, that particular claim on perspective and position that suggests a more effective view. Invested in geographical matters and spatial realities, this exhibition asks how location and sensation orients space. Noting the constructed sway and significance of places of birth and belonging, gestures, arrangements, mediums, materials and colors at play in the artworks within this exhibition lean towards the moods, pitches and affects of places elsewhere. This can be read as an affirmation of not merely the discursive spaces generated around celebrated city centers of various locales, but also the fortuitous presence generated in the presentation of artwork from “elsewhere,” and in doing so, bringing these places of longing and belonging to the gallery. Alternatively, These Are a Few of My Favorite Things supposes that the engineering necessary in fostering both artistic careers and aesthetic endeavors is, in fact, a structure defined by its mutable design and un-locatableness: A thing which is about site, but not located in-situ. The vantage invoked by the exhibition-making points to this redirection, moving land, memories, and the textures of making to(wards) here, reminding us that there is still more to see.
The works presented in These Are a Few of My Favorite Things are composed of acrylic, oil, collage, mixed media composites, and ink. In an exhibition of paintings and flat works, figures—abstracted and delineated—populate canvas, paper, and wood. SHAN Wallace and Tony Shore consider cityscapes in collage and acrylic pieces, framing business, intersections, and glimpses of life within these deeply hued and populated portraits. Devin N Morris and Latoya Hobbs offer single nude subjects; collapsing space in the plane depicted, material used, and renderings of brown skin. James Williams II, Taha Heydari, and Monsieur Zohore utilize figurative abstraction in amalgamated works on myth, technology (as raced and gendered), colonialism, and historiography. Bodies flow in and out of psychedelic disorder and horror, blurring image, boundary, and vantage. Antonio Scott Nichols, Amani Lewis, and Ariston Jacks work in Black diasporic orientations of time, creating works that tend towards afro-futurity and presence through portraits that harbor material and psychic space. Lindsay Adams and Jordan Greenblatt re-contextualize the art historical cannon through still life and portraiture. Lastly, Curtis Talwst Santiago offers a series of mixed media works on paper depicting a horned figure Jab Jab, a recurring motif in his works on and of Trinidadian Carnival. Santiago’s strokes imbue the figure with something that nears and echoes movement as the white of the paper illuminates the visage of the depicted spirit. Here, Santiago utilizes masking as a ritual act which summons realms (psychic, physical, and imagined) of the African diasporic.
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things takes its title from the 1959 musical The Sound of Music. It is a meditation on the objects, experiences and expressions of pleasure and joy, and a reminder that even when these emotions exist alongside suffering, they are, in fact, worth paying attention to. Or perhaps as Toni Morrison reminds us, “I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art.”
Essay written by curator Essence Harden.