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UTA Artist Space Presents 'Renaissance: Noir' Virtual Exhibition Curated By Myrtis Bedolla

UTA Artist Space Presents 'Renaissance: Noir' Virtual Exhibition Curated By Myrtis Bedolla

UTA Artist Space will present Renaissance: Noir, a virtual exhibition featuring paintings by 12 emerging Black artists, live on from today, June 9 - July 3, 2020. Curated by Myrtis Bedolla, Baltimore-based owner of Galerie Myrtis, Renaissance: Noir investigates Blackness on the continuum of the historiographies of Black artists' narratives that assert, individually and collectively, their state of mind and state of being Black. The timeliness of the exhibition is particularly significant, as its launch comes amidst a heightened awareness of racial injustice against the Black community, with protests occurring around the world. The show marks UTA Artist Space's first full virtual exhibition.

The artists highlighted in Renaissance: Noir are Tawny Chatmon, Wesley Clark, Alfred Conteh, Larry Cook, Morel Doucet, Monica Ikegwu, Ronald Jackson, M. Scott Johnson, Delita Martin, Arvie Smith, Nelson Stevens, and Felandus Thames. Their work collectively captures the existence of "double consciousness," as coined by W.E.B. DuBois, where one is constantly combating the "isms" -racism, colorism, sexism, capitalism, colonialism, escapism, and criticism through the act of artistic activism.

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to Artist Relief, a coalition of small to mid-sized national arts grant-makers that have come together to support artists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Artist Relief is distributing grants and providing informational resources to artists across the US facing dire financial emergencies due to the crisis. More information about Artist Relief can be found here.

"We are honored to showcase works from Galerie Myrtis, one of the world's leading Black-owned galleries, especially at such a critical moment in our nation's history," said Arthur Lewis, Creative Director of UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space. "It is thanks to Myrtis Bedolla that I first saw the work of Amy Sherald and Jamia Richmond Edwards. She is a true visionary who continues to give broader visibility to the narrative of Blackness."

"Renaissance: Noir is more poignant than ever as we share these thought-provoking works which depict the social, political, and historical journey of the Black experience through intergenerational narratives," said Bedolla. "I am excited to be partnering with UTA Artist Space on such a timely collection of paintings, prints, photographs, sculptures, and conceptual works, which span over 40 years of artistic production."

In deploying the power of Black subjectivity as the unifying force, Ronald Jackson visually documents the resolute spirit of African-Americans in his paintings, which offer a commentary on the lives of resilient and dignified Southerners before the Great Migration. Paintings and prints by Nelson Stevens emerge from activism and a commitment to rail against racism through a Black aesthetic that captures the ethos of the Black community.

The physiognomy of the Black male and its perceived threat to white society are concerns M. Scott Johnson, Felandus Thames, and Arvie Smith explore conceptually and figuratively in their work. Johnson's sculptures carved from marble are birth in the subconscious state of atavistic memory and derived from Shona and Makonde sculpting techniques. Thames' conceptual works address stereotypical archetypes associated with Black male masculinity. Smith's satirical paintings, unabashedly and unapologetically challenge racist tropes associated with the historic portrayals of Black men.

The social and political construct of society drives the work of Wesley Clark and Larry Cook. Clark deploys conceptual works in an investigation of what America owes African Americans, and what they owe themselves. For Cook, photographs convey the complexities of Blackness through imagined idealistic urban settings.

Black body politics is the impulse that fuels the work of Tawny Chatmon, Alfred Conteh, Morel Doucet, Monica Ikegwu, and Delita Martin. In Chatmon's photographs, hand-embellished portraits of Black children examine the "absence" of the black body in Western art. Conteh draws inspiration from his southern roots when creating paintings and illustrations that explore the "economic, educational, and psychological wars being fought" by his community, against a society that politicizes and criminalizes their very existence. Doucet's printmaking is driven by his desire to expose environmental racism and marginalization of the black body. Ikegwu's paintings of Black youth celebrate the nuances of black culture expressed through fashion that acts as the individual's signifier. In Delita Martin's fantastical prints, inspired by African diasporic spiritual and religious practices, the artist celebrates and reclaims a Black woman's power and place in the natural and supernatural worlds.

Over the past few months, UTA Artist Space launched Artist Projects, an ongoing series of virtual collaborations with artists such as Shantell Martin and Iva Gueorguieva on the UTA Artist Space website. Previously, UTA Artist Space presented I Guess by Now I'm Supposed to Be a Man: I'm Just Trying to Leave Behind Yesterday, Disembodiment, Dark Fantasy, Dreamweavers, and more on-site at UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills.

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