PROGRAM - London | David Zwirner

CHRIS OFILI

A collage by Chris Ofili, titled Crowning of a Satyr, dated 2021.

Chris Ofili

Crowning of a Satyr, 2021
Watercolor, charcoal, pastel, and gold leaf on paper
40 7/8 x 26 5/8 inches (104 x 67.5 cm)
Framed: 50 7/8 x 36 inches (129.2 x 91.5 cm)
Chris Ofili creates intricate, kaleidoscopic paintings and works on paper that merge abstraction and figuration to investigate the intersection of desire, identity, and representation. Much of his work since 2010 has addressed themes of transformation in Greek and Roman mythology as well as local stories from Trinidad, where he has been based since 2005.
The artist’s initial inspiration for this work was a rendition of Vaslav Nijinsky’s ballet adaptation of the Stéphane Mallarmé poem L’après-midi d’un faune (1876). This work places a satyr, usually a marginal character who accompanies the god Dionysus in Greek mythology, at the center of the narrative. In the foreground, a satyr with golden horns reflects on the moment he receives the glowing celestial circle, represented as a full figure to the left, while a nymph witnesses the scene. 
“The artist’s exploration of male and female forms in antiquity … are not so much a looking back as a looking forward through the lens of history, a classical, poetical past that inspired Ofili when he was first starting out and that continues to inspire him, along with the natural world—sea, sky—reflected in canvases that don’t distinguish between art and being.”

—Hilton Als, art critic
Nijinsky as Faun in the premiere of ballet L’après-midi d’un faune, May 29, 1912. Photo by Adolph de Meyer (detail)
Nijinsky as Faun in the premiere of ballet L’après-midi d’un faune, May 29, 1912. Photo by Adolph de Meyer (detail)
Nijinsky as Faun in the premiere of ballet L’après-midi d’un faune, May 29, 1912. Photo by Adolph de Meyer (detail)

PORTIA ZVAVAHERA

A painting by Portia Zvavahera, titled Muchamupupuri (Into the whirlwind), dated 2021.

Portia Zvavahera

Muchamupupuri (Into the whirlwind), 2020
Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas
77 1/8 x 60 1/4 inches (196 x 153 cm)
Framed: 78 1/4 x 61 3/8 inches (198.8 x 155.8 cm)
Portia Zvavahera gives form to emotions from other realms and dimensions beyond everyday life and thought. These deeply personal visions are realized through layers of vibrant color and ornate, veillike patterns that she builds into palimpsestic surfaces, alternating expressive brushwork with elaborate printmaking techniques. 
In this work, a figure is enveloped by a shroud of feather-like strokes of orange and red applied in spiraling circles that appear to recede into the distance. As with her other works, the imagery and forms concern the nature of the human condition while resolving the artist’s own subconscious states.
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Portia Zvavahera and Kerry James Marshall
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Portia Zvavahera and Kerry James Marshall
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Portia Zvavahera and Kerry James Marshall

KERRY JAMES MARSHALL

A painting by Kerry James Marshall, titled Black and part Black Birds in America (Red wing Blackbirds, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Scarlet Tanager) , dated 2021.

Kerry James Marshall

Black and part Black Birds in America (Red wing Blackbirds, Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, Scarlet Tanager), 2021
Acrylic on PVC panel in artist’s frame
36 1/2 x 30 1/2 inches (92.8 x 77.4 cm)
One of the most important artists working today, Kerry James Marshall is known for paintings that assert and celebrate the representation of Black figures, subjects who have long been marginalized within and excluded from Western art and visual culture.
This work, the third in the artist’s Black and part Black Birds in America series, weaves together the taxonomy of John James Audubon’s (1785–1851) The Birds of America, Audubon’s little-known biracial heritage, and the history of racial classification systems from the eighteenth century forward that have shaped the construction of race and identity. 
“The histories that I’m interested in are the history of art making, the history of Black people, the history of the world, the history of humanity.”
—Kerry James Marshall

Kerry James Marshall’s studio, featuring birdhouse models referenced for his Black and part Black Birds in America series, begun in 2020
Kerry James Marshall’s studio, featuring birdhouse models referenced for his Black and part Black Birds in America series, begun in 2020
Kerry James Marshall’s studio, featuring birdhouse models referenced for his Black and part Black Birds in America series, begun in 2020
Viewed from above, the birds surround a network of flowering plants and a birdhouse, which are painted from artificial flowers and models of birdhouses that Marshall has collected over time in his studio.

FRANZ WEST

A sculpture by Franz West, titled Ohne Titel, dated 1999.

Franz West

Ohne Titel, 1999
Papier-mâché, gauze, wood, dispersion, and lacquer
Sculpture: 18 1/8 x 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 inches (46 x 60 x 60 cm)
Pedestal: 41 3/4 x 14 7/8 x 14 7/8 inches (106 x 38 x 38 cm)
Franz West’s work playfully engages both high and low reference points, privileging art as a social experience. He manipulated materials and objects to call attention to the way works are presented to, and received by, their audience. 
In the 1990s, he became increasingly fascinated by autonomous sculpture, creating a series of abstract, painted papier-mâché and plaster forms that humorously play with the conventions of art and display, here resting the work on a deliberately rough, partially painted pedestal. 
“There is a distinct look to West’s work that defies quick visual digestion. Fundamentally sculptural in construction, it veers frequently towards the biomorphic and the prosthetic, mines the intellectualism of Freud and Wittgenstein, and possesses an awkward beauty that speaks with equal fluency to the aesthetics of painterly abstraction and trash art.”

—Darsie Alexander, chief curator of the Jewish Museum
Franz West, Ohne Titel, 1999

Franz West, Ohne Titel, 1999

 

 

 

 

Franz West, Ohne Titel, 1999

 

 

 

 

Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Josh Smith and Franz West
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Josh Smith and Franz West
Installation view, Program, David Zwirner, London, 2021, featuring works, from left, by Josh Smith and Franz West

JOSH SMITH

A painting by Josh Smith, titled Untitled, dated 2020.

Josh Smith

Untitled, 2020
Oil on linen
60 x 48 1/8 inches (152.4 x 122.2 cm)
Josh Smith’s prolific and expansive body of work utilizes specific visual motifs—including his name, leaves, fish, and palm trees—to explore the potential of painting while simultaneously upending its conventions.
This painting was created in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and New York City’s mandatory quarantine and depicts an empty streetscape inspired by Smith’s neighborhood as he experienced it at the time. The work displays an accidental record of residential and industrial building styles and speaks to the tradition of the cityscape within the history of painting.
“Without all the cars and the people, I could look up and see where I was.… The colors, the edges, the relationships of things, appeared with clarity.”
—Josh Smith

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