Still Lifes in Contemporary Art

Curated by Monique Long
Third Floor Gallery
March 31, 2022
August 21, 2022
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Devan Shimoyama, For Tamir VII, 2019. Silk flowers, rhinestones, jewelry, canvas, found objects and chains on industrial vinyl swing seat. 18 x 22 x 8 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

Elegies: Still Lifes in Contemporary Art is a group exhibition bringing together an international group of artists who have disrupted or extended the traditional presentation of still lifes. The artists have appropriated the genre in order to create works within a framework of Black diasporic identities, histories, and collective experiences. The works are expressed through various mediums, including painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, performance, and installation. Many of the artists are primarily known for portraiture, therefore the still lifes are compelling outliers in their practices. A central discourse in this exhibition considers Blackness in relation to the existential question, “How does an artist create work about the body without the body being present?” resulting in political, historical, and art historical interventions. Elegies is a thematic exhibition that presents two parallel narratives: one is an art historical examination of still lifes and the other is how that history is connected to Black figuration. Elegies presents the work of over fifteen contemporary artists, listed below.

Artist Commentaries on Their Own Work

Engaged in the iconography of classical painting, Elizabeth Colomba discusses the symbolic elements in her painting Coconut.

In his lively description, Azikiwe Mohammed explains his eclectic influences and how the viewer should perceive his works.

David Antonio Cruz describes his process-based drawing in Elegies.

William Villalongo unpacks the ideology of using black velvet as the support for his still life paintings.

List of Artists

Sadie Barnette, LaKela Brown, Elizabeth Colomba, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, David Antonio Cruz, Awol Erizku, Leslie Hewitt, Yashua Klos, Deana Lawson, Azikiwe Mohammed, Rashaad Newsome, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Devan Shimoyama, William Villalongo, Brittney Leeanne Williams

Featured image here and at top of page: Brittney Leeanne Williams, Untitled (Birds of Paradise), 2018. Acrylic on canvas. 10 x 10 in. Copyright the artist. Courtesy of the artist and Alexander Berggruen, NY.

Artist and Curator Talk Elegies: The Art of the Still Life


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