Deborah Kass’s nine-panel EVERYBODY (2019) was in-spired by the Martha Wash/Black Box club jam, “Everybody Everybody,” while its color palette suggests Ellsworth Kelly’s installation in the lobby of the National...
Deborah Kass’s nine-panel EVERYBODY (2019) was in-spired by the Martha Wash/Black Box club jam, “Everybody Everybody,” while its color palette suggests Ellsworth Kelly’s installation in the lobby of the National Gallery in Washington, DC. Her multi-panel EMERGENCY series (2019–20), meanwhile, references everything from Kazimir Malevich to Jasper Johns to the Bauhaus. Is Kass telling us to open up the art historical canon to everybody? Is the need for equity and equality in society at emergency levels? These works, which were started before the onset of COVID-19, are incredibly prescient expressions of the ethos of our time: that EVERYBODY is in this EMERGENCY together.
The work is part of Deb Kass' No Kidding series (2015—Present). One of the defining elements of this series is the incorporation of neon into the paintings. The series deploys the aesthetic formalism of Post War abstraction, as did Kass' feel good paintings for feel bad times. But now the mood has changed. The palette has shifted to dark colors and the surfaces of the paintings are worn and washed out. Seemingly positive lyrical phrases such as "Happy Days Are here Again' and "We'll Be Young Forever" contrast with a sense that everything is not alright. The colors and text in the works reference issues like women's health, climate change and institutional racism. Among the most potent pieces in the series use the words and colors Black and Blue alluding to, among other things, police violence against people of color.
Artist Studio, NYC Kavi Gupta, Chicago
Deborah Kass: Painting and Sculpture, Kavi Gupta | Elizabeth St., 2020 Frieze New York, 2020