Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Jill Krementz covers Simone Leigh at Luhring Augustine

Simone Leigh, 50, was born in Chicago, Illinois. A mid-career artist she appears to be hitting the big time.

Her numerous kudos include being a finalist for the Hugo Boss Prize (2018); and a recipient of the Foundation for Contemporary Art Grant.

Recent projects and exhibitions include "Trigger: Gender as a Tool and as a Weapon" (2017) at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; "Psychic Friends Network" (2016) at Tate Exchange, Tate Modern, London; "The Waiting Room" (2016) at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; "The Free People's Medical Clinic" (2014) presented by The Studio Museum in Harlem at Marcus Garvey Park, New York; and a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Simone Leigh
September 8-October 20, 2018
Luhring Augustine
531 West 24th Street, NYC

Detail: No Face (Pannier), 2018
The Village Series #1, 2018, Stonewear
Simone Leigh (b.1967) is celebrating a multi-media exhibition of her recent work at Chelsea’s Luhring Augustine Gallery.

Leigh’s practice is an object-based exploration of vernacular visual traditions from throughout the black diaspora and their intersection with constructions of black female subjectivity, black feminist discourse, histories of radical resistance, and ethnographic research. 

The exhibition features a new body of sculptural work in which she draws upon disparate, seemingly anachronistic histories of ancient Roman-Egyptian and more recent American vernacular art and architecture, with a focus on the anthropomorphic features of objects and their relationship to specific functions.

From a 200 BC bronze "Vase and lid in the form of a Nubian boy," to face jugs produced by enslaved African American potters in South Carolina, and to Mammy’s Cupboard — a Mississippi café housed in the figure of a woman’s skirt, Leigh’s new ceramic sculptures parse how these objects emblematize and problematize space in regard to the body, fusing and implicating the human form with architecture.

Among the celebrants at Friday’s opening night were gallery owners Lawrence Luhring & Roland Augustine, Lauren Wittels, Thelma Golden, Alexander Gray, Laurie Tisch, A C Hudgins, Mel Chin, and Robin Pogrebin.
Simone Leigh with No Face (Pannier), 2018; Terracotta, graphite, salt-fired porcelain, steel and raffia.

Lauren Wittels, Senior Director.

"I met Simone in 2014 when we were on a panel together at Brown University. She invited me to her show at Tilton Gallery. A studio visit followed and she joined us at Luhring Augustine two years ago. This is her first major exhibition of all new work in a variety of materials."

Roland Augustine & Simone Leigh stand in front of Cupboard VIII, 2018, Stonewear. steel. raffia, and Albany slip.
Detail: the head of Cupboard VIII.
Simone Leigh and Lawrence Luhring with No Face (pannier), 2018.
Woman with T-Shirt (Face Jug Series), 2018Bronze 100 (Face Jug Series), 2018
Salt-Fired stonewear
Artist Victoria Udondian, whose work has been exhibited at The Bronx Museum of the Arts.

On the pedestal is No Face (Bronze), 2018.

Joya Mandel-Assael, the evening's "official guard" for the floor installations (made of stoneware) from "The Village Series" (one diptych on the left and one single piece on the right).
The corridor connecting the two galleries.
Alexander Gray and Lauren Wittels. Mr. Gray's nearby Gallery (510 West 26th Street) is exhibiting Frank Bowling.

Ms. Wittels is wearing Dries Van Noten.
Mr. Gray's shoes are Swims. "I have them in every color," he said, "because I am vegan and they aren't made of leather. "
Lauren's Guccis are paired with stylish socks. "I bought them at Loehmann's before it closed."
Wendy Cole, a close friend of Simone's, is the director of several pre-schools.
Ayana Evans is a performance artist. Audre Lorde: A self-described "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet."

Desirée Gordon with her daughter Ishara Gordon-Bethel. Ms. Gordon used to work as an independent curator at The Brooklyn Museum.
Ceramicist Sana Musasama and Simone Leigh were studio mates 20 years ago.

Sana is admiring Figure with Skirt (Face Jug Series), 2018
Close-up of the upper part of Figure with Skirt.
Sana Musasama, Simone Leigh, and Mel Chin, a conceptual artist.

A major exhibition of Mr. Chin's work was at the Queens Museum this past summer.
Independent curator Jackie Mabey.
Collector Laurie Tisch. Multidisciplinary artist Chris Watts, who met Simone when they were both living in North Carolina.
Roland Augustine, Jeff Elrod, and Liz Serlenga. Mr. Elrod, known for his large-scale abstract paintings, is an artist represented by Luhring Augustine; Ms. Serlenga is a gallery associate. Holly Zausner and Lauren Wittels.

Zausner is an artist working in film, performance, collage, and sculpture. Her work has been featured in numerous solo-and two-person exhibitions in Germany and elsewhere, including Postmasters in New York.
Cynthia Eyakuze works as an advocate for women's rights and human rights. Cynthia and Simone met through the Arts Program of the Open Society Foundations.

Robin Pogrebin, a culture reporter of The New York Times, with Lauren Wittels.

Ms. Pogrebin co-wrote with Hillary M. Sheets a major Times profile — An Artist Ascendant: Simone Leigh Moves Into the Mainstream — in conjunction with Leigh's current debut at Luhring Augustine.

Thelma Golden is the Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

In 2010, Ms. Golden first showed Simone's work when Ms. Leigh was an artist-in-residence. Leigh has since been included in the museum's 2012 exhibition "Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art" and its initiative inHarlem, which places public artworks in parks around and near the neighborhood in Upper Manhattan.
Vanessa Agard-Jones and Aimee Cox arrived with bouquets for the artist with whom they have been friends for over a decade.

Both women are anthropologists — Vanessa is based at Columbia, Aimee at Yale — and they have often collaborated on projects with Simone.
Nine-year-old Ngozi Okeke-Agulu photographing 102 (Face Jug Series), 2018, Salt-fired earthenware.
Laurie Tisch, Lawrence Luhring, and A C Hudgins. Mr. Hudgins is a collector and a MoMA Trustee.
Out on the sidewalk at evening's end: three fellows at MoMA and Studio Museum: Devin Malone (25), Alexandra Adams (25), and Charmaine Branch (26).

Devin's tote is from the recent show at MoMA devoted to Adrian Piper.
Janelle Grace, Communications Manager for High Line Art. Janelle is already working on Simone Leigh's upcoming project inaugurating the High Line's new series of large-scale commissions which will be unveiled in April, 2019.

Almost completed, Leigh's Brick House is a sixteen-foot-tall bronze bust of a black woman whose torso is conflated with the forms of a skirt and a clay house.

Text and photographs © by Jill Krementz: all rights reserved. Contact Jill Krementz here.