Jeffrey Deitch Gallery LA
Curated by Melahn Frierson and AJ Girard
March 20–May 22, 2021
L.A. Art Documents enjoyed a personal tour of the exhibition from co-curator and new Gallery Director, Melahn Frierson.
Shattered Glass gathers a group of 40 international artists of color whose subjects don’t ask, but rather demand to take up space. Subjects whose gaze unflinchingly holds the viewer. Figures literally walk off the canvas, asking for more than a life beyond subjugation. The artwork gathered for this exhibition introduces a new narrative altogether and intends to shatter the glass of the long existing power structures in the art world.
Visibility within the arts has historically been racially determined by existing hierarchical power structures. This directly correlates to the erasure of Black and Brown bodies in the art world. There still exists a massive lack in images of self-affirmation and representation for people of color in traditional figurative portraiture. The result has forced those outside of this one-sided narrative to perceive their history through a predominantly white lens deemed as Universal. It is crucial that our community members, who have historically felt uncomfortable and unwelcome in institutional art settings, finally see themselves represented in these spaces and beyond.
Several of the works gathered here explore questions of power, surveillance, and justice in the quotidian Black and Brown experience while speculating on radical futures. Going against the grain, where these bodies have been historically weaponized, they are now seen as divine: simultaneously destroying and reconstructing the self. Artist Kezia Harrell defines identity as the one true thing we have, and her phantasmagoric self-portraits lead us to an entirely new universe for Black identity that exists far from the heavy traumas of the past. Similar to Harrell, artists Simphiwe Ndzube and Phumelele Tshabalala’s work is beautifully saturated in surrealism and fantasy, narrating the Black experience in post-apartheid South Africa from a mythological perspective.
This past year’s civil rights movement and shifts in societies’ interactions alongside a global pandemic that disproportionately affects Black and Brown communities calls for meditative reimaginations of what world we would like to see ourselves in. Shattered Glass focuses on redefining the tradition of western figurative art through painting, sculpture and film. The artists explore and expand the possibilities of self-determination while situating their place in this flux system.