A Stranger’s House That Is Our Own
August 26 – September 24, 2022
Friday August 26, 2022, 7-9pm
with a special DJ performance by Troop Brand
September 30 – October 29, 2022
Opening Reception: Friday September 30, 2022
Presented at the Historic Rail Park at Pullman Yards
225 Rogers St NE, Atlanta, GA 30317
Thursday to Saturday, 11am-4pm
(Atlanta, GA – August 11, 2022) UTA Artist Space announces two pop-up exhibitions in Atlanta by rising artists Mario Joyce and James Bester. The presentations will introduce UTA (United Talent Agency) and its artists to new audiences in Atlanta for the first time ahead of a permanent gallery location launching in the city’s Midtown area in 2023, marking the gallery’s second space outside its native Los Angeles. The pop-up presentations will take place in Atlanta’s historic Pullman Yards, a growing cultural hub for the entertainment industry in the South noted for film productions including Hunger Games, Fast and Furious, Baby Driver, and Bad Boys 3.
In Mario Joyce: A Stranger’s House That Is Our Own, the artist continues his project of investigating the ways Afro-Atlantic histories have existed in the United States, reassembling American iconography, particularly the American flag, into paintings of staggering psychic presence. In this new body of work, Joyce layers contrasting visuals through collage and painting to explore how African-Americans have often had to construct their own identities. Figures in the painting are “clothed” in vintage photographs depicting U.S. Union Troops, scenes from the Reconstruction era, colonial homes, and celestial landscapes. The works’ combination of expansive pastoral elements and interior spaces reflect a sense of home, comfort, and security – qualities which generationally have been self-constructed by Black Americans. By integrating these collaged elements into the paintings, Joyce draws a direct connection to his ancestry and history at large.
Joyce’s work is rooted in deep genealogical and historical research, charting lineages not only between his own past, present, and future, but that of the entire Afro-Atlantic diaspora. The artist’s upbringing in Ohio farming country informs both the rural elements of his work, as well as his anguished painting method reflecting the pain he experienced due to the area’s racism and homophobia.
“What does Jubilee mean to Black Americans? My fifth great-grandfather fought in the Civil War yet remained virtually alien to his own country,” Joyce says. “The works in this show are my way of reconstructing American symbols into narratives that are more inclusive and representative of the Black individual perspective throughout history.”
James Bester: Fluent represents a new milestone in the artist’s career, introducing paintings into his established practice of ceramic works influenced by “face jugs” brought to America by enslaved people from Africa. The new medium allows him to continue the directness of his work, using harsh lines, distorted figures, and a turbulent sense of motion to depict his upbringing and the inherited knowledge of his family’s struggles. Born in Wisconsin to parents and grandparents who, having seen churches burning in their native Mississippi, became part of the Great Migration north, Bester still had to overcome a more covert racism than his family had experienced, recoiling at the fetishization felt by his initial athletic career.
The exhibition’s title comes from Bester’s belief that Black Americans must become savvy to devious methods of oppression, with the works presented referencing key works from the Western canon through his personal, confrontational lens. In Beheading of Judith, he places a Black figure in the role of Caravaggio’s iconic avenger in Judith Beheading Holofernes, with a White figure in the place of the Assyrian oppressor. The starkness of the painting is representative of Bester’s matter-of-fact ethos.
Bridgette Baldo, Gallery Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta, says: “Our aim for UTA Artist Space Atlanta is to build out thoughtful programming that speaks to the local community while giving the city access to some of the best artists working today – both based in the Southeast and beyond. For our first two pop-up presentations, we are focusing on two artists who work to piece together fragmented histories. Both Mario and James grapple with the ‘unresolved’ in their work as a result of intergenerational injustice – which is especially vital in the context of Atlanta and its own history.”
Tony Parker, Sales Director, UTA Artist Space Atlanta, says: “Mario Joyce and James Bester speak to the history of the American South. It’s important for us to embrace fine arts in the region but also the history of how we got here. Both artists represent that with amazing stories to tell. Our temporary location is also part of that story. Pullman Yards has given us access to show amazing artists on the walls of a building loaded with history. It’s a special moment for all parties involved.”
ABOUT MARIO JOYCE
Mario Joyce Belyusaris a self-taught African American artist living in Los Angeles. His artistic process began early and was heavily influenced by religious and racial prejudice experienced in rural Ohio. He began using both genealogical research and paint to further understand and share the social history of discrimination. After moving to New York City, he has furthered his studies in the African diaspora and how American History is steeped in a selective storytelling that neglects to share the experiences of marginalized communities. His work is characterized by vibrant colors, strong lines, and heavy texture. A collage of vintage materials is typically a part of his process. His work is intended to create a bridge between our ancestors’ experiences and our familiar contemporary existence. He believes that without an understanding of our past, we have no real grip on the present, so his working process begins with genealogical research. Mario has exhibited his work in many group exhibitions, including ArtCrawl Harlem’s Fire 7 Soul: 100 Years of Harlem at Kente Royal Gallery, at PRIZM Art Fair in Miami, Florida, and Caribbean Art Fair in Barbados. His work is privately owned by many collectors throughout the U.S.
ABOUT JAMES BESTER
James Bester is an interdisciplinary artist whose work focuses on pulling back the veil of institutionalized oppression in America by preserving scenes from our fraught histories. Bester grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where he felt racial tension was being ignored. As a former Division 2 football player, Bester continued to experience racism and prejudice in the community, which led him to pivot into fine art where he found space to freely express his perspective. Also, being dyslexic, Bester found art to be a more effective medium in which he could communicate the issues he faced living in Madison. James earned a BFA from the University of Northern Michigan and currently lives and works in Beaverton, Oregon.
ABOUT PULLMAN YARDS
This historic, 27-acre Atlanta property has been at the forefront of technology and innovation since it was originally built by Pratt Engineering in 1904 and remains true to its roots by serving as the backdrop of major motion pictures, television shows and renowned art exhibitions today. Initially used for the production of fertilizer bombs during WWI, and then to develop and patent liquid carbonated gasses, it was partly owned by The Coca-Cola Company before The Pullman Company purchased the property in 1926, expanded it, and used it to repair passenger and cargo cars. The Pullman company was one of the largest employers of African American men during segregation, and “The Pullman Porters” formed the nation’s first African American labor union affiliated with the American Federation of Labor: Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and Maids, founded by civil rights activist A. Phillip Randolph. As rail travel died down, the abandoned site became a popular destination among local street artists and as a filming location. In 2017, the site was purchased by Atomic Entertainment, who redeveloped the site as an entertainment destination of the south, with rotating exhibitions, two on-site restaurants, and Emory’s Science Gallery.
ABOUT UTA ARTIST SPACE
Since the establishment of its flagship Beverly Hills location in 2016, UTA Artist Space has been committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. With the announcement of a second Atlanta location, to open in 2023, UTA Artist Space will bring its impressive vision and reach across the United States. The original location has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including Derrick Adams, Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Essence Harden, Larry Clark, Petra Cortright, Conrad Egyir, Amanda Hunt, Mariane Ibrahim, Arcmanoro Niles, The Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery, The Haas Brothers, and Ai Weiwei, among others. UTAArtistSpace.com
All visitors will have to acknowledge both the health and safety guidelines and their health status before they visit. Hand sanitizer will be available on site for guest usage. Restrooms will be closed to guests and the Artist Space will be deep cleaned on a regular schedule following the close of business each day.
Sutton New York
+1 212 202 3402