Spring has sprung in NYC and one of our favorite activities as we shed our winter coats in favor of tshirts is to hop around art shows. Check out a run-down of what we’re most excited about this April in the Art World.
Thaddeus Moseley: Recent Sculptures
Karma NYC (188 E. 2nd Street, New York, NY)
March 4 - April 22, 2023
On view at Karma NYC is an exhibition of recent works by Thaddeus Mosley, created between 2020 and 2022. The collection of large scale wooden sculptures are hand-carved and formed out of unique sections of walnut, cherry and chestnut. Using carving tools, Mosley brings out the warm tones and woodgrain of each distinct section. Furthermore, the compositions are always in conversation with balance – at times, heavy sections sit atop delicately carved columns, evoking images of prayer mountain art. There is a constant negotiation at play between weight, space and balance in Mosley’s work. In this sense, the sculptures are somewhat reminiscent of Brancusi or Noguchi, while being completely unique in their own rite.
Mosley began creating wooden sculptures in the 1950s while working at the USPS, honing his craft in his free time. Today, at the age of 96, Mosley continues his work as an artist in Pittsburgh. Influences in his practice include Jazz, traditions of West African mask-making and European modernism.
Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola
Night Gallery (227 E. 16th, Los Angeles CA)
March 25 - April 29, 2023
If you happen to be in LA this spring, be sure to check out Anthony Olubunmi Akinbola’s exhibition at Night Gallery. The exhibition title, Sweet Tooth, alludes to the playful spirit with which Akinbola approaches his work - through color arrangement, choice of material, and structural orientation. Known for his abstract durag “paintings” - large scale canvases covered with dozens of durags - Akinbola uses his medium to reflect on cultural paradigms while experimenting with color theory. The durag is a symbolic object on many levels. It’s an item used to protect Black hair. It’s an item that was once associated with negative stereotypes but has since been reclaimed as a source of Black pride. It’s an intimate household item for Black Americans that is fraught with significance. Akinbola’s work recontextualizes this everyday item and in doing so subverts the exclusive and elitist traditions of contemporary art.
Over the past few years, Akinbola’s work has been catapulted into the spotlight of the Art World, with recent acquisitions by major museums, and exhibitions at blue chip galleries. With that said, the artist stays true to his vision, utilizing unconventional materials to create a dialogue around the construction identity.
Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined
New Museum (235 Bowery, New York, NY)
March 2 - June 4, 2023
For the first time in its history, The New Museum is dedicating its entire space to a single artist, the Kenya-born Wangechi Mutu. The show comprises over 100 works that capture the artist's expansive 25-year career. Including painting, sculpture, drawing, film and performance, the comprehensive survey of Mutu’s varied output displays her ingenuity in worldbuilding as an artist. The themes that appear throughout her oeuvre include, “transmutation, doubling, ideas of interconnectivity and reciprocity, not just to one another, but to ourselves and our environments,” says the show’s co-curator Margot Norton. Many of these ideas find their form in a cast bronze sculpture of two figures - part human, part tree - in a shallow boat titled “In Two Canoe”. In this piece, Mutu draws on fantasy as a way to process the realities of globalization and the African diaspora: “[the mangrove tree] has moved everywhere, has made journeys like those who were kidnapped from Africa and taken to the Americas.”
With her most significant commissions, to lesser-known earlier works, ‘Intertwined’ offers an unprecedented look into the artist’s career. On view through June 4th, Wangechi Mutu: Intertwined is not one to skip.
Stanley Whitney: There Will Be Song
March 30 - May 13, 2023
Across the pond is a Stanley Whitney show at Gagosian’s London outpost titled, “There Will Be Song,” featuring recent works by the artist that have yet to be exhibited. Furthermore, this is the artist’s first show with the gallery since he left Lisson last year. Colorful and lyrical (Whitney has said before that he listens to Miles Davis when he paints), the wobbly grid-like color block paintings that Whitney is known for take the center stage. Each work is composed of rectilinear color blocks painted in oil, demarcated by horizontal lines. Whitney has famously said that the colors determine the structure. A distinct conversation between form, composition and color is always present in the work, inspired by Whitney’s love for Jazz - a tradition that is rooted in experimentation. Like Jazz, his compositions are abstract, playful, and vibrant.
Whitney was often close to famous contemporary artists - whether it was his professor and friend Philip Guston, or the downtown contemporary NY scene which he ran parallel to - but it wasn’t until later in his career that his work was discovered on the big stage. Today, Whitney’s work is getting the attention that it deserves.