Curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President, Contemporary Art,
and Jenny Gerow, Assistant Curator
Opening Reception: Wednesday, June 29, 7-9pm
Look up here, I’m in heaven, a group exhibition of unconventional portraits featuring paintings, works on paper, and mixed-media work by David Antonio Cruz, Yashua Klos, Tschabalala Self, and Yoon Ji Seon. Genres are cut up and new materials enter the conversation, unraveling the traditional understanding of portraiture as a singular representation of an individual. By countering old narratives which had long framed the representation of persons of color—of privilege and exclusion, vulnerability and typecasting—the four artists foreground their diverse perspectives and question how identity unfolds.
While cultural and political realities are central elements of the work on view, the artists in Look up here, I’m in heaven create imagery that aims to transcend the here and now to establish a more transcendent sense of self. Although the artists shed physical, temporal markers of identity in their works, they never fully escape the world at hand. In exploring issues of race and representation, the figures portrayed by David Antonio Cruz, Yashua Klos, Tschabalala Self, and Yoon Ji Seon, also seem to be bound up in gazing upon, or imagining a different reality. They aim for a form of transcendence—not quite heaven, but a place where the self can exist on its own terms.
David Antonio Cruz works across painting and mixed media, performance, and video, to explore his identity as a queer artist negotiating the politics of gender, race, immigration, and cultural difference. In Look up here, I’m in heaven, he presents erotically charged self-portraits and underscores the visceral, physical elements of identity, pouring paint over some of the bodies in his compositions and calling them his “chocolate works.” On Wed, July 6 at 7pm, Cruz will perform How To Order A Chocolate Cake, in addition to performances by artists Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and David Thomson.To work through issues of race, identity and community, Yashua Klos employs techniques like woodcutting and etching to produce innovative, large-scale collages, expansive figurative portraits of friends and fellow artists rendered in a quasi-cubist, bricolage style. Similarly, Tschabalala Self employs printmaking, painting, fabric, and other materials to create fragmented collages that challenge misconceptions of black femininity within and outside of her community. Self employs a bricolage of various prints and fabric that flatten and abstract her subjects, sometimes beyond recognition. Self will present all new work for this exhibition at BRIC House. In her ongoing series Rag Face, Yoon Ji Seon pairs photography with colorful multilayered machine-sewn thread to create a totally new form of self-portraiture. Photographing herself with comically exaggerated features, she further distorts her printed face allowing the thread to pull, cinch, and twist her features into painful submission, speaking to the pervasiveness of plastic surgery in South Korea. Yoon’s eyes are the only part of her face not obscured by thread.
In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of performance art, music, and dance programs will take place in the gallery.
READ THE FULL PRESS RELEASE HERE >>
The 3,000 square-foot Gallery in BRIC House has soaring 18-foot ceilings that permit major exhibitions focusing on emerging and mid-career artists and curators.