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Howardena Pindell: Autobiography

Garth Greenan Gallery is pleased to announce Howardena Pindell: Autobiography, an exhibition of mixed media works at 545 West 20th Street. Opening Thursday, October 17, 2019, the exhibition is the artist’s third with the gallery and the first since her 2018 retrospective, Howardena Pindell: What Remains To Be Seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. A selection of paintings and works on paper from the artist’s Autobiography series will be on view, all created between 1980 and 1995.

The Autobiography series reflects a difficult but formative period for Pindell. In 1979, a car accident left the artist with acute memory loss. The crash, and her subsequent rehabilitation, literalized a metaphorical process of destruction and reconstruction she had begun exploring in her work of the preceding decade, cutting and sewing strips of canvas into swirling patterns, then building up the surfaces in elaborate stages.

The first of the Autobiography series, Autobiography: Oval Memory #1 (1980–1981) reflects Pindell’s painstaking initial attempts to consolidate memories following her traumatic concussion. She had diligently collected postcards and photos for decades preceding the accident, relics that only revealed their full usefulness after the crash. In this and the following works, Pindell first cut postcards and photographs into strips before positioning them on the collage, alternating the photographic imagery with acrylic paint, and integrating fragmented images into layered fans of paint and paper. The swirling combinations of postcards, Cibachrome, and paint form a polyphony of perspectives.

The uncanny resonance between her embodied experience and her formal interests in fragmentation and integration extend beyond the car crash. Dialectical patterns, like that of rupture and healing, abound in Pindell’s life and ideas: in her seemingly opposed commitment to abstract and polemical political art; her sense of herself as an African-American and also as a composite of many cultures and backgrounds; her affection for rationality, science, and mathematics, along with her interest in ritual, tradition, and spirituality.

In Autobiography: Fire (Suttee) (1986–1987), Pindell traces the silhouette of her own body on the irregular ovoid canvas. In reference to the ancient Indian practice known as Suttee or “widow burning,” red, yellow, and orange fingers of paint overlap frantically atop a flame-blue background. Through her haunting use of her own body in the painting, she avoids both the ugly zeal of unqualified judgment of the Other and the academic trap of absolute cultural relativism. Her strong political commitments at home, along with her extensive travel and cross-cultural study, combine to form a dense and powerful work.

Pindell has alternately described her thick, layered paint strokes as both the “sounds of a mantra” and “symbolic of African ritual scarification.” In her work, she mines ritual and tradition seriously—exploring their roles in human healing and meaning—while remaining wary of their dangers. Her deep study of world cultures is simultaneously anthropological and profoundly personal.

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Date

Oct 17 - Dec 07, 2019

Contact

info@garthgreenan.com >

Photos

Installation view of Howardena Pindell: Autobiography

Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

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Installation view of Howardena Pindell: Autobiography

Garth Greenan Gallery, New York

Artworks

Howardena Pindell > <

Autobiography: Fire (Suttee)

Autobiography: Africa (Buddha)

Autobiography: Africa (Red Frog II)

Autobiography: Artemis

Autobiography: India (Shiva, Ganges)

Autobiography: Japan (Mountain Reflection)

Autobiography: Japan (Hiroshima Disguised)

Autobiography: Japan (Shisen-dō, Kyoto)

Autobiography: Oval Memory #1

Howardena Pindell > <

Autobiography: Fire (Suttee)

Autobiography: Africa (Buddha)

Autobiography: Africa (Red Frog II)

Autobiography: Artemis

Autobiography: India (Shiva, Ganges)

Autobiography: Japan (Mountain Reflection)

Autobiography: Japan (Hiroshima Disguised)

Autobiography: Japan (Shisen-dō, Kyoto)

Autobiography: Oval Memory #1

Artists

Howardena Pindell

Philadelphia