James Little: Whitney Biennial 2022: Artist Installations That Stole the Show

Simon Fisher, Eva Fuchs, Rory Mitchell , Ocula, April 8, 2022

 

There is a strong presence of abstraction at this year's edition of the Whitney Biennial. Among the exhibition's reviews, Alex Greenberger in ARTnews suggests this reflects 'a state of life in which figuration is not enough to picture the chaos we all experience.' From James Little's hard-edge minimalism to Woody De Othello's bulging, glossy ceramics, as well as Charles Ray's pensive sculptures, we've selected some of our favourites from the presentation.

 

Woody De Othello

With a host of solo exhibitions at galleries and institutions including Jessica Silverman, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and San Jose Museum of Art since graduating from the California College of the Arts in 2017, Woody De Othello's inclusion in the Whitney Biennial is the latest in a series of milestones.

 

Often comprising household objects and vessels adorned with arms, legs, and other bodily features, these are ceramic pieces that are filled with life. Humorous and contemplative in equal measure, their references range from jazz and African ceramics to Afrofuturism.

 

Karma in New York will present a solo exhibition of the artist's work at the end of September this year.

 
Matt Connors

Matt Connors has been a firm favourite of Ocula Advisory's Rory Mitchell since encountering the artist's work in a solo exhibition at Herald St in London in 2015.

 

On his 2021 exhibition at Xavier Hufkens, Rory reflected on Connors' 'brilliantly spontaneous handling of paint, including accidental drips and splatters that permeate flat spaces of colour, contributing to the story of their production.'

 

Until 15 May 2022, Lismore Castle Arts in Ireland are presenting a solo exhibition of the artist's work.

 

Dyani White Hawk

Dyani White Hawk's beaded geometric panel is a sight to behold. Combining Lakota beadwork with Western Abstract Expressionist influences, including painters Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman, White Hawk creates unique visual intersections of different cultures.

As curator Candice Hopkins has written, 'It is this gap—the distance between different cultures, histories, and aesthetic traditions—where White Hawk's work oscillates' and by doing so, her pieces 'challenge the blind spots of art history.'

 

James Little

As Holland Cotter observes in The New York Times, in James Little's 'magisterial, all-black, oil-and-wax "Stars and Stripes" (2021), it's hard to say where the bars that make up its geometric pattern are converging or colliding.'

 

It is the result of James Little's technique, in which raw pigment is combined with heated beeswax to create rich colours, adding a material depth to the tradition of Western abstraction.

 

Inspired by artists including Alma Thomas, Mark Rothko, and Franz Kline, Little has investigated colour relationships over nearly five decades. In November 2022, a solo exhibition of the artist's work will be on view at Kavi Gupta in Chicago.

 

Charles Ray

Charles Ray is having a moment. Known for working slowly, creating around four works a year, a series of major institutional exhibitions are currently bringing an abundance of his sculptures to publics.

 

Alongside two exhibitions in Paris at the Centre Pompidou and the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection and a major survey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, three of the artist's sculptures are included in the Whitney Biennial.

 

'Oversize and brooding,' wrote Jerry Saltz in Vultureupon the show's opening, 'they exude an otherness that changes the gravitational fields around them.'

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