For Frieze New York 2023, Goodman Gallery presents works by
RUBY ONYINYECHI AMANZE | GHADA AMER | DAVID GOLDBLATT | DOR GUEZ | ALFREDO JAAR | REMY JUNGERMAN | WILLIAM KENTRIDGE | MISHECK MASAMVU | SHIRIN NESHAT | PAOLO SALVADOR | SUE WILLIAMSON | HANK WILLIS THOMAS
ruby onyinyechi amanze
amanze’s creative practices and processes focus on producing mixed media, paper-based drawings and works. Her art draws inspiration from photography, textiles, architecture and print-making.
amanze’s practice builds around questions of how to create drawings that maintain paper’s essence of weightlessness. The large-scaled and multi-dimensional drawings are part of an ongoing, yet non-linear narrative that employ the malleability of space as the primary antagonist.
A nameless, self-imagined, chimeric universe has simultaneously been positioned between nowhere and everywhere. Using a limited palette of visual elements, including ada the Alien, windows and birds, amanze’s drawings create a non-narrative and expansive world. The construction of this world is largely centered around an interest in the spatial negotiations found in the three dimensional practices of dance, architecture and design.
Amer’s wide-ranging practice spans painting, cast sculpture, ceramics, works on paper, and garden and mixed-media installations. Recognising both that women are taught to model behaviors and traits shaped by others, and that art history and the history of painting in particular are shaped largely by expressions of masculinity, Amer’s work actively subverts these frameworks through both aesthetics and content. Her practice explores the complicated nature of identity as it is developed through cultural and religious norms as well as personal longings and understandings of the self.
The citations that are carefully embroidered on Amer’s paintings do not speak directly about the status of women in a particular society nor do they address what is going on in the US or in the Middle East. Rather, her paintings remind the viewer that women must be vigilant over the rights they have acquired and never take their liberation for granted: “In Western societies, there is an assumption, especially among the younger generations, that the battle of the sexes has been won, that women have been liberated, and that their rights are secure. And yet, we are witnessing today a sharp regression of women’s rights and a stark rise of violence against women. However, in countries where one assumes women’s rights to be limited or absent, such as in Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan, or Mexico, women of the younger generation know they have a lot to gain from fighting for those very same rights that are eroding in the West. So they are not letting down their guard and they are continuing to fight fiercely.”
“we were taught to fear the witches and not those who burned them alive”
David Goldblatt was born in Randfontein, a small mining town outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. Through his lens, chronicled the people, structures and landscapes of his country from 1948, through the rise of Afrikaner Nationalism, the apartheid regime and into the democratic era - until his death in June, 2018. In particular, Goldblatt documented the people, landscapes and industry of the Witwatersrand, the resource-rich area in which he grew up and lived, where the local economy was based chiefly on mining. In general, Goldblatt’s subject matter spanned the whole of the country geographically and politically from sweeping landscapes of the Karoo desert, to the arduous commutes of migrant black workers, forced to live in racially segregated areas. His broadest series, which spans six decades of photography, examines how South Africans have expressed their values through the structures, physical and ideological, that they have built.
Location in the sky captures guarded buildings in the centre of Johannesburg where migrant workers lived. The buildings reflect the legacies of segregationist policies of the apartheid government which controlled the flow of Black people in and out of cities.
Through this series, Goldblatt captures place as well as the spirit of the people who inhabit the place, he noted; “To me, there is a seamless relationship between people and their places. People are marked by the places in which they have their being, and there are few places unmarked by the passing, the hand, the presence of people….There is a casual intimacy in this mutual relationship that inevitably permeates much photography. I don’t need people in a photograph to know that people are there.”
David Goldblatt, Photographers References, 2014.
Dor Guez’s new series of prints, titled Amid Imperial Grids (2022), presents manipulated negative images of the first modern maps of Palestine dating back to 1885. Based on these maps, two geographical grids were established at the beginning of the 20th century: “The British Palestine Grid” and “The French Levant Grid”, divided on the map by a thick pink line. Guez removes any human markers from the maps that categorise the landscape, including names of roads, towns, borders, villages, cities, mountains, and valleys.
Alfredo Jaar is a New York-based artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders and the balance of power between the first and third world.
The work Six Seconds is based on a photograph of a young girl that Jaar encountered in the Nyagazambu refugee camp located 48 kilometers east of Kigali. The girl was visibly shocked and was desperately searching for her parents. She had just learned that they had been killed by a Hutu militia. She disappeared before the artist was able to ask her name or inquire about her story. Their encounter lasted only six seconds and the only record left is this out of focus photograph. Six Seconds is about the difficulties of representing issues of life and death in a work of art. It relies on poetry and beauty to communicate loss and dignify its subject.
In his work, Jungerman explores the intersection of pattern and symbol in Surinamese Maroon culture, the larger African diaspora, and 20th century Modernism. He places fragments of Maroon textiles and other materials found in the African diaspora—the kaolin clay used in several religious traditions or the nails featured in Nkisi Nkondi power sculpture—in direct contact with materials and imagery drawn from more “established” art traditions. Jungerman, therefore, presents a peripheral vision that both enriches and informs our perspective on art history.
In March 2020, as the first COVID lockdown began in Johannesburg, Kentridge started working on a series of episodic films in his home studio. The series, now known as Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot, have extended over the last three years in their construction becoming nine 40-minute films. Each episode explores the working processes in the studio, presenting different themes through which making happens. The first three episodes of Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, and the British Film Festival in 2022. Drawing for Self-Portrait as a Coffee Pot (A Forced Perspective) is one of the significant drawings that was created through the filming process.
Exploring and championing a breadth of mediums, such as animation, sculpture, performance and drawing, William Kentridge’s complex creations are multifaceted in form, resonating with audiences through their unifying exploration of the very fabric of our existence. Revisiting and reacting to philosophical, historical or political tropes, he conjures myriad themes in his polymorphic works which are experimental and conceptually rich.
Pour forms part of an accumulation of elemental symbols within Kentridge’s broader practice. This series of bronze sculptures functions as a form of visual dictionary. The sculptures are symbols and ‘glyphs’, a repertoire of everyday objects or suggested words and icons, many of which have been used repeatedly across previous projects. The glyphs can be arranged to construct sculptural sentences and rearranged to deny meaning.
“The glyphs started as a collection of ink drawings and paper cut-outs, each on a single page from a dictionary. Previously I had taken a drawing or silhouette and given it just enough body to stand on its own feet - paper, added to cardboard and put on a stand. With the glyphs, I wanted a silhouette with the weight that the shape suggested. A shape not just balancing in space, but filling space. Something to hold in your hand, with both shape and heft.” - William Kentridge
Oscillating between abstraction and figuration, Masamvu’s works allow him to address the past while searching for a way of being in the world. His layered painted surfaces and brushstrokes, which are almost visceral, exist as remnants of the physical act of painting and give the sense that multiple temporalities have been included in one picture plane. As one of the most significant and pioneering contemporary artists from Zimbabwe, Masamvu’s work offers renewed understandings on visual culture in Africa and the decolonial project more broadly – inciting a fresh critical perspective that bears witness to the political realities, social textures and divergent voices present on the continent.
Washed Up Monday and Eye Bags form part of Masamvu’s latest body of work where he combines striking colour with a distinct expressionist style to create tumultuous landscapes, representing the confessional vulnerability at the heart of his practice. These works see the artist lean towards abstraction through frenetic mark-making, allowing the paint to convey his fears, anxieties and dreams. The irregular, erratic swipes of paint and chaotic compositions mimic the artist’s desire to let emotions manifest without being expressed through recognisable forms.
Shirin Neshat’s photographic series Women of Allah examines the complexities of women’s identities, both through their personal and public lives. The series also explores notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in her home country of Iran. This is done both through the lens of Western representations of Muslim women and through the more intimate subject of personal and religious conviction.
This particular image was one of only a few taken by Neshat in Iran during one of her last trips. She was inspired by photographs from the Qajar period, which tended to have similar backdrops.
Paolo Salvador is a Peruvian-born, Berlin-based artist whose work has been shown extensively in Latin America with recent debuts around the world. The artist continues to draw on a developing vocabulary of mythic imagery, commenting on universal themes relating to home and displacement as well as joy and grief. His painting practice presents a distinct “cosmovision” in which art, science and spirituality are intricately intertwined. Salvador’s canvases present a harmonious cosmological aesthetic defined by a vision of ecosystemic balance in which nature encompasses culture, economy, society and religion. His naked figures, presented alongside plants with various animals, form a distinct visual language through which Salvador acknowledges a long history of mutualism and references ancient Andean and Amazonian representations of animals with anthropomorphic features.
Salvador’s holistic approach to painting involves carefully considered engagement with his materials: from sourcing clay-based minerals and natural resins, to the physical pressure he exerts on each painterly gesture and the number of breaths he takes with each brushstroke. Salvador’s large-scale paintings seek to imbue Andean folklore with personal experience while drawing on western art historical influences. In so doing, the artist’s practice perpetuates the belief that passing down stories through generations is an important means for preserving culture and resisting colonial legacies.
Sue Williamson’s newest series of work, Stories for Children reflect the pages and the illustrations in a colouring in book bought from the gift shop of the Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
The embroideries of the Stories for Children series reflect the book's attempts to explain to a child the horrors of this war between the British and the Boer republics (1899-1902).
In a large wall work dating from 1990, Colouring In, Williamson combined the pages of the book with archival photographs from the time, contrasting the treatment of the Boers by the British with the treatment of black people in South Africa by the Afrikaans government.
Colouring in is currently on exhibition at The Box Museum in Plymouth, UK as part of a solo show of the artist's work titled 'Between Memory and Forgetting'. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a new work commissioned by The Box which considers the irony of two obelisks, one in Plymouth and one in Bloemfontein, both memorialising the Anglo Boer War. The Plymouth obelisk recalls the British soldiers who died in battle, and the Bloemfontein obelisk, memorialises the women and children who died in the camps. The new work carries the words from the Plymouth Hoe memorial: TOWARDS ANOTHER WORLD.
Williamson is also currently on a major international solo exhibition at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Tell Me What You Remember, with Lebohang Kganye, and a solo exhibition titled Other Voices, Other Cities opens in late July at the Centro Atlantico de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas.
Thomas’s lenticulars I am You / I Am Joy (2023) and I am. Am I? AM I? I Am (2023) see a direct interaction with Ringgold’s set of collages from the 1970s. Her collages include phrases that speak to Black feminist sentiments borne out of her personal experiences. Thomas borrows Ringgold’s typographic aesthetic and layout to speak to ideas around identity in a contemporary context. The lenticulars also reference the 1968 Memphis sanitation workers' strike, specifically the posters declaring “I AM A MAN.” These works, through the nature of their material, force viewers to look again, mirroring the artist’s revisiting of this historical moment and protest art more generally.