“ALL GOOD FIRES,” Jeffrey Gibson’s second solo show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., will feature a diverse range of multimedia work, including the artist’s iconic punching bags, figurative “doll” sculptures, embellished tapestries, two new series of paintings, and his most recent video,To Feel Myself Beloved on The Earth. Exploring themes of identity, music, community, and resilience, “ALL GOOD FIRES” reflects an evolution in Gibson’s painting practice and his experiments within different channels of creative expression.
Gibson’s video To Feel Myself Beloved on The Earth was produced in the months during the coronavirus pandemic, in the midst of national civil unrest demanding justice and equity for BIPOC. Turning to breathing, physical movement, and nature, Gibson conceived six different performances centered around the transformation of chaos to stability, and the manifestation of healing through movement. Trained and untrained dancers, from a variety of backgrounds, were filmed in various natural and urban locations wearing garments made by Gibson’s studio. Within a soundscape of polyrhythmic drumming and ambient noises, the dancers transition between meditative breathing and un-choreographed movement to express the oscillating relationship between inner turmoil and harmony.
In his new painted canvases, Gibson’s expands his interpretation of Modernist abstraction and Native American visual languages beyond the hard-edge formations seen in his previous work. These more painterly compositions begin with stained raw canvas, which is then layered with alternating bands of text, rectangles, zig-zags, and diamonds. In works such as I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN and THROUGH THE FIRE, one can see soft washes of paint forming the base of the composition; shadows blur into fields of pink, blue, and green to effect a nebulous landscape of color. The visual interplay between these backgrounds and fields of geometric patterns create vivid, emotive textures, reflecting the bold declarations of text inscribed upon them.