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LOS ANGELES — A black and white sweater, a hoarder’s worth of buttons, slip-on shoes, a brittle “No Parking” sign. These found materials interrupt the abstracted surfaces of Brenna Youngblood’s paintings in ways that would probably make Piet Mondrian yelp. Mondrian believed abstraction could only tap into the universal harmonies of life if it shunned the crudeness of reality in favor of simplified forms. His view, utopic and myopic at the same time, left its mark on 20th-century styles and movements, from Color Field painting to Minimalism. In her new solo show at Roberts Projects, the LIGHT and the DARK, Youngblood reassembles and revises the language of abstraction, embedding the traces of everyday living — discarded items, personal mementos — onto canvas and boards. Their inclusion, layered over periwinkle transparent washes and puckering impasto, plunge the viewer into a landscape where memories crash against the formalities of abstraction.
Trained as a photographer, Youngblood pulls from a personal archive of images and objects that she has collected over the years. (She is often grouped alongside other West Coast assemblage artists like Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, and Betye Saar.) These paintings, all created between 2020 and 2021, distill Youngblood’s own experience moving through the upheavals of last year, from the coronavirus pandemic to the racial uprisings.
In “Closure #1” (2021), a muted gray surface is overrun by hundreds of craft buttons that crowd the top of the canvas like polychrome plastic clouds, reminding me of my own cresting desires from last year, as the propulsive routines of life shifted into a hazy limbo. “INCARCERATION” (2020) retools the texture and movement of a distressed sweater to suggest both the disorientation and absence of an unseen subject. “No More Drama” (2021) presents a bird’s eye view of a dark peppermint landscape whose surface veers from chalky to glassy. Worn shoes appear near the bottom, again invoking the present absence of someone.
Youngblood applies a poet’s touch to the surface, crafting sparse mixed-media collages that ripple with the material detritus we encounter daily, but may easily forget. These details, much like the citrusy splatters and geometric shapes they come in contact with, offer an alternative to the Mondrian ideal, where the textures of reality enhance the spiritual dimensions of the work.
Brenna Youngblood: the LIGHT and the DARK continues by appointment at Roberts Projects (5801 Washington Boulevard, Culver City) through May 15.
“Black infants in America are now more than twice as likely to die as white infants—11.3 per 1,000 black babies, compared with 4.9 per 1,000 white babies, according to the most recent government data—a racial disparity that is actually wider than in 1850, 15 years before the end of slavery, when most black women were…
he ownership of images has a long and nuanced legal history, which has evolved dramatically in recent years as cultural standards and photographic technologies have rapidly advanced
The show, which honors the 50th anniversary of an exhibition history once ignored, continues a series of projects documenting Wilmington’s contemporary art scene.
Renty and his daughter Delia. Renty was an enslaved African, kidnapped from the Congo, sold and forced into slave labor on the South Carolina plantation of B.F. Taylor
What is the relation between possessing a person, possessing their image, and dispossessing their progeny
As a scholar of African American history and photography whose work has focused on the status of violent images in museums and archives, I fully support the validity of Ms. Tamara Lanier’s claim and the amicus brief.
Two K-12 art teachers will each receive a $1,000 cash gift and an additional $500 to put toward classroom art supplies. Nominations are due October 31.
The daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor, Delia, Drana, Alfred, Jack, George Fassena, and Jem remained in an unused storage cabinet until 1975, when it was discovered by an employee of the Peabody Museum.
I am writing in support of the amicus curiae brief submitted by Professor Ariella Aïsha Azoulay of Brown University for the full restitution of the daguerreotypes of Renty Taylor and his daughter Delia, currently held by Harvard University, to their familial descendant, Tamara Lanier.
We cannot be indifferent to the long-lasting effects of photography. The photographs at the center of Lanier v. Harvard are relentless in making Renty and Delia Taylor work and perform as slaves. The pain inflicted on them has not ceased. Photography has the capacity to propagate harm, and we have the moral obligation to interrupt…