In ‘myselves,’ Kohn Gallery’s recently opened group show curated by Joshua Friedman, the artists of our polarising times are entitled to create deeply personal work that steers away from identity politics and examines the interior condition instead. Featuring critically acclaimed artists just shy of mega stardom such as Loie Hollowell, Erin M. Riley, Chiffon Thomas, Jarvis Boyland, Amoako Boafo, Heidi Hahn and Salman Toor, the exhibition offers an experimental assemblage of painting, embroidery, sculpture and drawing. Maintaining traditional mediums and methods of art-making that are still tied to individual subjectivity with traceable labour, the body is a reoccurring site of construction.
“This show is essentially about the physicality of artwork during a time that has become so restricted from physical interaction with artwork,” Friedman summarises. But rather than propose sweeping and overarching theoretical models, the curator insisted on a more simple and intersectional approach, adding that he wanted to create a platform for a multitude of mediums and viewpoints on a deeply layered and complex topic. Sophia Narrett’s work acted as an initial reference point, with her thread sculpture beginning as one image, only to untangle into countless others. With all works traditional media, medium and meaning are in tandem, where the act of creating an artwork, requiring multiple layers, embodies the act of forming an identity.
In the work Prenatal Plum Line in red-orange, green, and purple (2020) Loie Hollowell delves on the experience of her pregnancy. The American artist, who has recently gained momentous popularity, is known for her distinctive abstract painting and her command of an almost divine geometry which evokes bodily landscapes. Leaving handwritten annotations adorning the edges of the painting, a series of mathematically composed spherical forms overlap each other, holding various indications of volume.
Mimicking the stages of the moon, the work brings to mind the various cyclical processes in nature, taking comfort in a clean-cut, categorical understanding of life. Alternatively, Erin Riley’s tapestry draws on the act of self-reflection, as she depicts herself staring into an infinite layering of screens and mirrors from her own intimate bed, probing at deep anxieties in the collapse of private and public identities and our current standards of hyper performativity. Other seminal works include Chiffon Thomas’ I’ll See For You If You Speak For me (2020), where the artist sews together patches of window mesh and curtain in fractured scene of dialogue as affirmations of non-binary thinking, and Ghanaian painter Amoako Boafo’s gestural and ephemeral portraits redefining Black masculinity. On view from 11 September to 31 October 2020 at LA-based Kohn Gallery, myselves ultimately provides multiple visual languages to talk about one’s self, from abstract and geometric paintings to playful utilisations of Baroque illusionism.