P·P·O·W is pleased to present historical works by Carolee Schneemann, David Wojnarowicz, and Martin Wong alongside contemporary works by Elizabeth Glaessner, Hilary Harkness, Guadalupe Maravilla, Erin M. Riley, Betty Tompkins, and Robin F. Williams.
Carolee Schneemann (1939 – 2019) activated the female nude with a multidisciplinary practice that spanned sixty years and included painting, assemblage, performance, and film. Her paintings from the 1950s and 60s initially harnessed the lineage of Modernism and Abstract Expressionism, but quickly transitioned into painting-constructions, kinetic sculptures, films and performances. Aria Duetto (Cantata No. 78): Pin wheel, 1957, an abstract oil painting mounted on a steel potter’s wheel, uniquely bridges her early figurative and landscape paintings and her now iconic kinetic actions. Made in Colorado, this work was made in response from challenges from her male contemporaries to paint a truly spectacular landscape, an effort Schneemann described as, “bringing the canvas to life with dynamic brushwork, investing it with both substance and motion.” The centrality of painting as a medium to Schneemann’s legacy of groundbreaking actions cannot be overstated. In 1993, Schneemann declared, “I’m a painter. I’m still a painter and I will die a painter. Everything that I have developed has to do with extending visual principles off the canvas.” Schneemann exhibited worldwide, at institutions including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and The Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid. The comprehensive retrospective Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Paintings recently traveled from Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2015), to the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2017) and MoMA PS1, New York (2018). In 2017, Schneemann was awarded Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion, honoring lifetime achievement.
David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was among the most incisive and prolific American artists of the 1980s and 90s. P·P·O·W will present a complete portfolio of posthumous prints from his now iconic series Arthur Rimbaud in New York, 1979/2004. Made when Wojnarowicz was 24 years old, the series channels the spirit of the outlaw French poet Rimbaud, whose two indelible volumes of poetry were published in his early 20s. Posed in verité style, the 44 black and white photographs capture an unknown, masked model throughout New York City in a specific moment in history, after Stonewall but before the AIDS pandemic. In the 2004 monograph, the first and most comprehensive publication on this series, these works are described as inhabiting “a wonderland of sex and drugs, of art and love, of material poverty and overwhelming emotional richness.” Multiple images of meat-process facilities near the West Side piers featured in the series will be contextualized by an Untitled painting on Masonite from 1984 which features stenciled silhouettes of a man both killing and birthing cattle. Set over a distinctly Southwestern vista, this painting is one of many invocations of animal imagery in Wojnarowicz’s oeuvre, a symbol he used to question menacing collusions between government and industry, as well as our ethical relationships to other species. Wojnarowicz’s work has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The American Center, Paris, France; The Busan Museum of Modern Art, Korea; Centro Galego de Art Contemporanea, Santiago de Compostela, Spain; The Barbican Art Gallery, London; and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night, co-curated by David Kiehl and David Breslin, opened at the Whitney Museum of American Art in July 2018. The widely acclaimed exhibition has been reviewed in Artforum, The Guardian, The New York Times and The New Yorker, among others. The retrospective traveled to the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid in May 2019 and the Musee d/Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg City in November 2019. A concurrent exhibition of Wojnarowicz’s films and photographs opened at the KW Berlin in February 2019. Wojnarowicz: Fuck You Faggot Fucker, a comprehensive feature-length documentary directed by Chris McKim, premiered in November 2020 to rave reviews.
A keen visual stylist, Martin Wong (1946-1999) developed highly innovative approaches to technique and form. Rich surfaces and intricate details define his signature style, while his compositions are formed from architectural space, graphic text, constellations and ASL hand signals. African Temple at 9th Street, 1985, adds tenderly rendered portraiture to his signature depictions of closed storefronts of New York City’s Lower East Side. Dan Cameron, who curated Sweet Oblivion, Wong’s 1998 retrospective at the New Museum, New York, described this painting as conveying "the directness of expression that Wong the urban anthropologist has always sought in invented systems - the manual alphabet, Chinese ideograms, graffiti, constellations, and even brick arrangements." We will also present this work along two small octagonal paintings from an influential series that was collectively exhibited in Access!, 1992, at the Islip Art Museum, New York. Martin Wong exhibited for two decades at notable downtown galleries including EXIT ART, Semaphore and P·P·O·W, among others. His work is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Bronx Museum of The Arts, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Cleveland Museum of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; among others. Human Instamatic, a comprehensive retrospective, opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts, New York, in 2015, and traveled to the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio in 2016 and UC Berkeley Art Museum in 2017.
Over the past decade, Elizabeth Glaessner (b. 1984) has conjured a saturated and densely layered world of transformation and multiplicity. Inviting amorphousness in her subjects and environments, Glaessner’s surreal universe is populated by evocative forms in various states of becoming or undoing. Rich with art historical and cultural allusions, her work offers no narratives or fables but rather, evokes nebulous atmospheres unmoored by virtue and vice. Working in oil, acrylic and pure pigments dispersed with water and various binders, Glaessner’s technique shifts between formal articulation and non-representational gesture. Reflecting the metamorphosis occurring within her subjects, each painting is grounded by a fluid primordial color field. Her diaphanous subjects emerge as limbs while finer features spring from tonal and textural convergence. Enraptured by suns, moons, seasons and tides, the resulting transfigurations are unequivocally products of their environment. Glaessner holds a BA from Trinity University and an MFA from New York Academy of Art. She was awarded a postgraduate fellowship at the New York Academy of Art in 2013, a residency at GlogauAIR, Berlin in 2013 and a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in 2012. She has presented two solo exhibitions with P·P·O·W, in 2014 and 2018, and has contributed to group exhibitions throughout North America and Europe. Glaessner was recently included in the group exhibition Les Yeux Clos at Perrotin, Paris and Go Figure!?, an online exhibition at Sprüth Magers, curated by Ed Tang and Jonathan Cheung. In October, Galerie Perrotin will present a solo booth of new paintings at Frieze London, 2021. Her third solo exhibition at P·P·O·W will open in February 2022.
In her paintings, Hilary Harkness (b. 1971) meticulously renders reimagined histories that comment on sociocultural forces with a distinctly contemporary sensibility. Harkness’ work explores interpersonal dynamics through a lens that allows power struggles inherent in sex, race and class systems to play out on an uncensored stage. In her ongoing, 19th century episodic series, The Arabella Freeman Series Harkness masterfully transforms the making of Winslow Homer’s iconic Civil War era painting Prisoners from the Front, 1866, to present an alternative narrative centered around an enduring relationship between Homer’s protagonist, General Barlow, and a fictitious, free Virginia landowner, Arabella Freeman. The first vignette of the series, Before, 2021 depicts Arabella Freeman, her brother Charles and adopted sister Justine on their property in Virginia days before Civil War breaks out. On the eve of war, Before is a foreboding look at what is to come, depicting the moment of the first friction between the Freemans and their white neighbors, who will soon be on opposite sides of the battlefield. Further along in Harkness’ narrative arc, Forest Cemetery, 2021 depicts the Freeman siblings burying Justine in their family’s mausoleum after she was fatally wounded fighting disguised as a man at the Battle of Antietam. However, before her death, Justine brought the Freeman’s a mysterious baby with her final words, "it's the General's baby.” Intrigue abounds as Arabella believes the baby is her lover General Barlow’s but she will soon discover it is in fact her brother Charles’ bastard. By constructing this alternative episodic series, Harkness challenges our visual understanding of American mythology. Harkness earned her BA from UC Berkeley and her MFA from Yale University. She has exhibited at The Flag Art Foundation; the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza; and the Deste Foundation, among others. Her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art and has been featured in the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Interview magazine, among others.
Combining sculpture, painting, performative acts, and installation, Guadalupe Maravilla (b. 1976) grounds his transdisciplinary practice in activism and healing. Part of the first of unaccompanied, undocumented children to arrive at the United States border in the 1980s as a result of the Salvadoran Civil War, Maravilla explores how the trauma undocumented immigrants experience physically manifests in the body. Discovering sound therapy during his cancer radiation treatment, Maravilla has since developed a series of vertical, large-scale, free-standing sculptures, titled Disease Throwers. Functioning as headdresses, instruments, and shrines, the towering sculptures serve as symbols of renewal, generating vibrational sound from gongs. Described by Maravilla as “healing machines”, the structures incorporate materials collected from sites across Central America, such as anatomical models, toys, sacred objects, and sonic instruments including conch shells and flutes. Maravilla received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts, and his MFA from Hunter College in New York. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. He has received numerous awards and fellowships including a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, 2019; Soros Fellowship: Art Migration and Public Space, 2019; Joan Mitchell Emerging Artist Grant, 2016; and The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation Award 2003, among others. Seven Ancestral Stomachs, Maravilla’s recent exhibition at PˑPˑOˑW, was reviewed in the New Yorker, The New York Times and Forbes, among others. Planeta Abuelx, a solo exhibition of newly commissioned works, will be on view at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, NY until September 6, 2021. In September 2021, Maravilla will be included in Crip Time, a group exhibition at Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt, Germany.
Sourcing wool from shuttered textile mills around the United States, Erin M. Riley (b. 1985) washes, strips, and hand-dyes her yarn before weaving on a Macomber loom. The resulting meticulously crafted tapestries depict intimate, erotic and psychologically raw imagery that reflects upon relationships, memories, fantasies, sexual violence and trauma. Collaging personal photographs, images sourced from the internet, newspaper clippings, and other ephemera to create her woolen compositions, the Brooklyn-based weaver exposes the range of women’s lived experiences and how trauma weighs on the search for self-identity. Riley received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art. Her work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at P·P·O·W, New York; Jonathan Hopson Gallery, Houston; Galerie Julien Cadet, Paris; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles; Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Høvikodden; The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs; Gana Art Gallery, Seoul; among others. Riley is the recipient of a United States Artists Fellowship Grant, 2021 and an American Academy of Arts & Letters Art Purchase Prize, 2021 and has completed residencies at The MacDowell Colony, New Hampshire and the Museum of Art and Design, New York. In October 2021, Riley will exhibit in We’re Not Meant to Do This Alone, a group exhibition at Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD, as well as Data Dating, a group exhibition at iMAL, Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, Brussels, Belgium.
In a career spanning five decades, Betty Tompkins (b.1945) has been celebrated and scorned for her provocative feminist iconography. By appropriating imagery created for male self-pleasure, Tompkins has reframed long-held taboos by challenging critical discourses around content, style and scale. Her recent Insults & Laments series unifies her critically acclaimed WOMEN Words with her signature airbrushed paintings. By combining text and image, Tompkins responds to ongoing political and cultural debates about inequity, harassment and violence. Tompkins’ has recently presented solo exhibitions at P·P·O·W, New York; J Hammond Projects, London; and Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva. Her work has been featured in influential group exhibitions, including Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2018); Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas (2016) and Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011), among others. Raw Material, a revelatory survey exhibition, will be on view at MO.CO. Montpellier Contemporain, Montpellier, France until September 5, 2021.
Robin F. Williams (b. 1984) juxtaposes a variety of techniques, including oil, airbrush, poured paint, and staining of raw canvas to create deeply textured and complexly constructed paintings. Supplementing the traditional painting techniques she learned at the Rhode Island School of Design, Williams scours social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube for new approaches to painting, which she defines as contemporary folk art. Fusing such practices with early modernism, pop culture, and advertising, Williams challenges systemic conventions of representation of women. In her ongoing series of iPhone and Amazon virtual assistants, Williams ponders what corporeal form these bots might take. Long fascinated with the gendering of artificial intelligence, Williams adopts famously distressed female film stars, including Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby and Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, as sites for an embodied Siri to communicate her cry for help. In Siri Keeps the Faith, 2021, the most recent in this series, Williams depicts Siri as Shelley Duvall playing Wendy Torrance in The Shining. Depicting a moment early in the film where Wendy meets with a child psychologist to discuss Danny’s imaginary friend “Tony,” we learn her husband had recently dislocated her son’s shoulder during a drunken rage. Wendy exclaims to the physiologist as she lights a cigarette, “It’s just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child.” By corporealizing Siri in this moment, Williams peels back layers of rationalization to reveal underlying trauma. P·P·O·W will open Williams’ solo exhibition Out Lookers on October 15, 2021. In conjunction, Pace Prints will present Final Resting Face, Williams’ first exhibition of fine art prints. These exhibitions will be accompanied by a collaboratively produced monograph featuring an essay by acclaimed author Carmen Maria Machado, as well as a dialogue between Williams and Pace Editions’ master intaglio printer Sarah Carpenter.