On View: ‘Renaissance: Noir’ Curated by Myrtis Bedolla at UTA Artist Space

By Victoria L. Valentine

While museums and galleries are temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 virus, On View will continue to showcase images from noteworthy exhibitions

UTA ARTIST SPACE in Los Angeles is presenting a virtual exhibition curated by Myrtis Bedolla, founder of Galerie Myrtis, a black-owned art gallery in Baltimore. A selection of largely figurative works in a variety of mediums by 12 artists is on view in “Renaissance: Noir.” Grouped in four related categories, the works explore black body politics, the physiognomy of the black male and its perceived threat to white society, the social and political construct of society, and the power of black subjectivity.

Bedolla’s curatorial statement says in part: “In claiming agency over ‘otherness’ and cultural emancipation from a Eurocentric lens, exuberant thought-provoking paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and conceptual works serve as chronological annals that delineate the social, political, and historical journey of the Black experience through intergenerational narratives that span over 40 years of artistic production.”

Works by Tawny Chatmon, Wesley Clark, Alfred Conteh, Larry Cook, Morel Doucet, Monica Ikegwu, Ronald Jackson, M. Scott Johnson, Delita Martin, Arvie Smith, AfriCOBRA artist Nelson Stevens, and Felandus Thames are featured. The artists are based in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Miami, Texas, Atlanta, and New York. The group includes many emerging artists. Several artists are represented by Galerie Myrtis. The showcase is UTA’s first online only exhibition. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Artist Relief. CT

Curated by Myrtis Bedolla, “Renaissance: Noir” is on view at UTA Artist Space in Los Angeles, online only from June 9-July 3, 2020. The gallery space is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. Check directly with UTA Artist Space for an updated opening schedule and visiting hours.

READ MORE about the exhibition in Myrtis Bedolla’s curatorial statement.

TOP IMAGE: MONICA IKEGWU, “Sister’s Keeper,” 2020 (oil on canvas, 30 x 48 inches). | Courtesy Monica Ikegwu and Galerie Myrtis

ALFRED CONTEH, “Aston and Ethan,” 2020 (acrylic and urethane plastic on canvas, 84 x 47.5 x 3 inches). | Courtesy Alfred Conteh and Galerie Myrtis

“The paintings in the Two Fronts series are visual explorations of how African diaspora societies in the south are fighting social, economic, educational and psychological wars from within and without to survive. The honest and false narratives of history embodied in this series are primarily personified in patinated colossuses that symbolize the culture and realities of the populations they tower over, and the battles we’ve fought and continue to fight. We are at war on two fronts.” — Alfred Conteh

RONALD JACKSON, “A Dwelling Down Roads Unpaved,” 2020 (oil on canvas, 72 x 84 inches). | Courtesy Ronald Jackson and Galerie Myrtis

ARVIE SMITH, “2Up and 2Back,” 2019 (oil on canvas, 72 x 60 inches). | Courtesy Arvie Smith and Galerie Myrtis

“With humor, seduction, and emotion I create narratives about the Black experience and throw them out to the audience and ask members to wrestle with any discomfort it might create. I want my work to be a catalyst for change by depicting the strength, bravery, heroics, and endurance of African Americans. As an artist who spent my early formative years in the Jim Crow south and who lived under the separate and unequal apartheid system of Los Angeles in the 50s, 60s, and 70s I feel qualified to critique the social impact of racism on America culture through my paintings.”

— Arvie Smith

TAWNY CHATMON, “The Boy That Changed My Life Honored: The Redemption Series,” 2019 (24k gold leaf and acrylic paint on archival pigment print, 30 x 24 inches). | Courtesy Tawny Chatmon and Galerie Myrtis

“The primary theme that drives my art practice is celebrating the beauty of black childhood. I am devoted to creating portraits that are loosely inspired by works painted during the 15th-19th centuries with the specific intent of bringing to the forefront faces that were often under-celebrated in this style of work.” — Tawny Chatmon

FELANDUS THAMES, “Portrait of the First Post-Black,” 2019 (hair beads on coated wire and aluminum rod, 39 x 24 x inches). | Courtesy Felandus Thames and Galerie Myrtis

“I am interested in our relationship to the ready-made and how they can become surrogates for their user’s ethnology and gender. My work attempts to transcend didacticisms that are typically associated with anachronistic understandings of representation and instead aligns itself with ideas around the taxonomy of human difference. I am also interested in the interplay between the personal narrative and the imagined. And I use humor, increasingly important to the work, as it allows the viewer to ease into disconcerting motifs.” — Felandus Thames

FELANDUS THAMES, “Reframe (Mike Tyson),” 2020 (hairbeads on coated wire, 89 x 48 inches). | Courtesy Felandus Thames and Galerie Myrtis

DELITA MARTIN, “I See God in Us/ Claiming What Has Risen,” 2020 (relief printing, charcoal, fabric, decorative papers, hand stitching, acrylic, 72 x 51 x 1/2 inches). | Courtesy Delita Martin and Galerie Myrtis

“Works in the I See God in Us series are not only layered in textures and techniques but also symbolism. The color blue is used throughout in varying shades. The color is a symbol of the night and representative of a magical and spiritual place; a place that is deeply grounded in cultural and oral histories that allow for the acceptance of magic in an otherwise rational world. The women in the works are magical beings that possess the power to transcend their black skin and existence in a spiritual form. Through the weaving of history and storytelling, they offer a new narrative on the power of women.” — Delita Martin

DELITA MARTIN, “I See God in Us/ Trinity,” 2020 (acrylic, charcoal, decorative papers, hand stitching, liquid gold leaf, relief printing, 72 x 102 inches). | Courtesy Delita Martin and Galerie Myrtis

FIND MORE about Galerie Myrtis on the Baltimore gallery’s website.