It is with great excitement that Kavi Gupta celebrates the return of EXPO Chicago. After almost three years, we are once again able to spotlight our home city as the essential global locus for international contemporary art that it has always been. Our presentation at this year’s fair is a definitive representation of the enduring importance of Kavi Gupta’s ongoing mission to amplify voices of diverse and underrepresented artists to expand the canon of art history.
At this crucial moment, we are grateful for the chance EXPO Chicago gives us to center important works by some of the most influential, dynamic artists working today—including 2022 Whitney Biennial artist James Little. With five of his large-scale paintings on view in the biennial, Little is poised to finally achieve the recognition he has long deserved as an American master in the field of abstraction. “Coming from my background, which was a very segregated upbringing in Tennessee, I felt that abstraction reflected the best expression of self-determination and free will,” Little recently told the New York Times.
We will spotlight work from Little’s renowned Black series. This series represents the culmination of Little’s lifetime of mastery in the realm of color relationships. Little takes his knowledge of color to new experiential heights in his Black paintings, inviting the eye into a nuanced and delicate aesthetic exploration of the emotive properties of tone, pattern, and light. In these powerful works, Little turns the ability of the human mind to perceive subtle differences in a single hue into a sumptuous journey into the meaning of perception.
We are also proud to exhibit major works by Devan Shimoyama and Beverly Fishman in conjunction with these artists’ ambitious solo exhibitions opening in our Chicago galleries during EXPO week. Coinciding with Shimoyama’s exhibition A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped in Fire, which will debut at our Elizabeth St gallery on Friday, April 8th, we will present a series groundbreaking paintings that were first exhibited at the artist’s recent debut European solo museum exhibition, All The Rage, at Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Germany. Never before exhibited in the United States, these powerful portraits subvert the legacy of racism, violence, and homophobia with powerful representations of passion, empowerment, and hope.
In conjunction with the opening of Beverly Fishman’s new solo exhibition FEELS LIKE LOVE at our new, first floor gallery space at 835 W Washington Blvd gallery on April 6th, we will premiere one of Fishman’s newest large-scale, multi-form paintings. Representing a breathtaking evolution in scale and complexity for this Anonymous Was A Woman grantee, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, and National Endowment for the Arts Grantee, her latest body of work continues Fishman’s aesthetically stunning and conceptually rigorous critique of humanity’s complex relationship with Big Pharma.
We will also exhibit at Expo Chicago for the first time the work of multiple artists who reflect our expanding, diverse program: including a new large-scale wall sculpture by Allana Clarke, made through a performative process of the artist physically wrestling with 30-second hair bonding glue; a new wall hanging from Suchitra Mattai, woven from vintage saris, ghungroo bells, boas, and other materials relating to the artist’s personal relationship to her Indo-Caribbean heritage; and the latest work by digital activist art collective Rewind Collective; as well as major works by Miya Ando; Alfred Conteh; Inka Essenhigh; Deborah Kass; Michi Meko; Jaime Muñoz; Manish Nai; Kour Pour; Mary Sibande; Jessica Stockholder; Su Su and guaranteed surprises from all of the artists in our program.
Also opening in our Chicago galleries during EXPO week are new solo exhibitions by Alisa Sikelianos-Carter and Arghavan Khosrovi.
Sikelianos-Carter envisions a parallel universe in which white supremacy has been eradicated and Black features are honored as a manifestation of the mystical. Her painting practice explores a speculative world in which Blackness is a superpower. Within this universe, ancient, supernatural guardians call upon Black people to activate the innate divine technology they possess in order to manifest their transmutation into consecrated, immortal beings whose Blackness is critical to their survival and essential to their celestial transcendency.
Khosravi’s figurative and symbolic iconographies challenge misogynistic cultural architectures by spotlighting the contemporary international fight for gender equality. The most noticeable visual characteristic of her paintings is their multi-dimensionality. Constructed from a complex scaffolding of cut wooden panels painted on all sides, they offer a constantly shifting perceptual experience to viewers. Each painting references a specific Persian miniature painting from history; yet, their architectural presence makes clear that they are intended to subvert the tradition to which such images belong.
Thursday April 7 | 5PM
Devan Shimoyama in Conversation & Book Signing at EXPO Chicago
In town for the opening of his latest solo exhibition, A Counterfeit Gift Wrapped in Fire, opening Friday April 8 at Kavi Gupta | Elizabeth St., acclaimed visual artist Devan Shimoyama will join Nate Freeman, art writer for Vanity Fair and co-host of Nota Bene. The conversation will revolve around the “magical aura that appears” in Shimoyama’s works. Following the conversation, Shiomyama will sign copies of Devan Shimoyama: All the Rage, the catalogue of his debut European solo museum exhibition at Kunstpalais, Erlangen, Germany.
Friday April 8 | 12 PM
AFRICOBRA in Conversation at EXPO Chicago, Located Inside Chicago's Historic Navy Pier at the Dialogues Stage in the Festival Hall
As part of EXPO/DIALOGUES, internationally renowned Curator and Director at Serpentine Galleries, London, Hans Ulrich Obrist will host a conversation with AFRICOBRA artists Gerald Williams, Wadsworth Jarrell, Jae Jarrell, and Sherman Beck. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear from the original members of one of Chicago’s most influential arts collectives about the history of AFRICOBRA and the evolution of their individual art practices. (Presented in partnership with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MOUSSE.)
AFRICOBRA | The Peninsula
We’re proud to announce the opening of AFRICOBRA: I Am Somebody, a special exhibition of historic works by Chicago’s most influential arts collective at The Peninsula Hotel in the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. (Presented in conjunction with Kavi Gupta, The Peninsula, and EXPO Chicago.)
Saturday April 9 | 1 PM
Artist-led Exhibition Walkthroughs with Beverly Fishman and Arghavan Khosravi at Kavi Gupta | 835 W. Washington Blvd
Khosravi’s practice takes a conscious look at how values are transmitted and fostered through visual art. Typically, the only women portrayed in Persian miniature paintings have a subservient or secondary role, lacking agency and social significance. The value system transmitted by that iconography continues to shape Iranian gender politics today. Khosravi’s paintings introduce contemporary figurative and symbolic iconographies that challenge that misogynistic cultural architecture by spotlighting the contemporary international fight for gender equality. Abstract elements, like black, liquid plumes, reference corrupted economic and political systems, while female bodies are often depicted as being shackled or with their mouths sewn shut.
Fishman’s luminescent, geometric relief paintings beguile the eyes. Join the Anonymous Was A Woman grantee, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, and National Endowment for the Arts Grantee as she leads a tour of her new solo exhibition, FEELS LIKE LOVE. A single heart punctuates the eight-foot-long multi-form that serves as the central painting in FEELS LIKE LOVE. Seduced by such an elegant and innocent form, will viewers recognize the heart’s true origin as the commercial logo for the world’s most successful brand of Diazepam? “The heart is an abstraction of the V in Valium,” Fishman says. “It’s sinister. But nothing is reduced in my thinking to right or wrong, or yes or no. It’s a more complex situation, and I’m trying to negotiate that.”