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From Body to Horizon

New York
October 20 – November 12 2022

From Body to Horizon is an exhibition of paintings by queer artists who have developed specific approaches to color through depictions of the interior and exterior landscapes of their own lives. Occupying the first floor of the gallery’s 909 Madison Avenue location, the show will feature works by Etel Adnan, David Hockney, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, and Doron Langberg. Pushing beyond the conventions of naturalism, each of these four artists has developed a signature approach to color as a language—a means for reflecting upon topographies both figural and panoramic, domestic and picturesque, intimate and universal. From Body to Horizon will open on October 20.

The exhibition is anchored by David Hockney’s large-scale diptych Double East Yorkshire (1998), one of six early canvases the artist painted of Yorkshire between 1997 and 1998, during the illness and death of his longtime friend Jonathan Silver. While the first four paintings in the series evoke summer, the work on view portrays the progression of the seasons and the passage of time.

Hockney has described the painting as “autumn,” echoing the death of his friend: “All has been harvested. These were the colors of a much later summer.” A stirring coalescence of the vistas Hockney encountered while traversing the English countryside, this richly hued and patterned canvas also represents his challenge to single-point perspective by layering multiple vantages—in the artist’s words, “piling horizons one atop the next.” Rooted in physical place, the landscape of Double East Yorkshire is a picture of the world shaped by color and perspective, and informed by grief, hope, and an appreciation of life.

Hockney’s expressive use of color has been an inspiration to Doron Langberg, whose new figurative painting Jarrett and Candystore (2022) will be on view along with three distinctive portraits of flora from Fire Island’s “meat rack”—the overgrown, wooded paths between Cherry Grove and the Pines where gay men have found secluded refuge. Serving as index of both the artist’s painterly process and his lived experience, Langberg’s work uses the personal to create a sense of a queer subjectivity. Sweeping and gestural, Jarrett and Candystore pictures a couple entwined on a bed, their limbs and the folds of bedsheets rendered in kaleidoscopic washes of paint and deft brushwork that form a seductive mise-en-scène. Of the tableau, Langberg reflects, “The color in this piece took me by surprise, it was not what I expected to make… during the process I realized that, for me, making paintings from a queer point of view means giving form to the specific way each of us exists in the world.”

Likewise, Etel Adnan believed nature expressed itself most vividly in color. Though the Lebanese American poet and artist often wrote about the atrocities of war, her paintings sought a universalizing language through her chosen hues. Untitled (#234) (2014) features fields of ecstatic color that upend and reimagine the traditional landscape genre. Exemplifying Adnan’s refined symbolism, her combinations of line, shape, and tone express an evocative engagement with consciousness and place. Here, the thick strokes of Adnan’s palette knife—delineating land, horizon, and sky—capture scenes of particular resonance, perhaps near the Mediterranean Sea or painted from memory.

Collapsing time and space, past and present, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s work similarly probes geographies real and imagined. The artist was born in 1993 in Gutu, Zimbabwe, and resided in South Africa from the ages of nine to 17. Presently living and working in London, Hwami refutes the notion of a singular society, drawing upon her experiences of dislocation and displacement—and infusing her familial portraits and nudes with a sense of place and memory. On view is her poignant painting Lotus (2020), which illuminates its nude subject in a bold, pared-down palette dominated by brown, yellow, black, and blue. Exploring the Black body and its representation, gender, and sexuality, through intense pigment and line, Hwami’s intimate figural portrayal unfolds across the canvas in a testament to the power of experience, beauty, sensation, and response.

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