Berry Campbell Gallery is pleased to announce a survey exhibition of collage works by Queens based, African American artist, Frank Wimberley (b. 1926). Since the 1960s, Wimberley has been known for creating dynamic, multi-layered, abstract paintings described in 2001 by New York Times art critic, Grace Glueck, as “. . . good to behold: beautifully brushed and infused with a light that magnifies their intensity. . ..” This special exhibition will feature both paintings with collage elements as well as traditional collage works on paper and will highlight some of Frank Wimberley’s most important collages to date, including several examples going back to the early 1970s.
Collage has been an important element in Wimberley’s paintings and works on paper since his early years. Wimberley grew up watching his mother create ceramics, inspiring him to add dimension to his two-dimensional work. Underpainting, thick texture, drawing, untraditional materials, and collage have been a through line of his work for over six decades. Coming out of the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, Wimberley adheres to a pure form of abstraction inspired by his neighbors on the Eastern End of Long Island who also worked in collage like Charlotte Park, Lee Krasner, and Conrad Marca-Relli. Collage artist Romare Bearden was a friend and noted inspiration to Wimberley. Wimberley showed at Bearden’s Cinque Gallery from 1982-1998, having a solo exhibition in 1994.
Several important examples of his early collages from the 1970s will be exhibited for the first time in decades. “Untitled,” 1971 is a multilayer collage situated on a black ground. The bottom layer of painted paper is torn in several areas and then put back together revealing the raw brown color underneath. Other torn pieces of paper are placed on top of each other heightened by the bright colors painted on some of the added pieces of paper. The expressive green brushstrokes painted over the torn areas of the paper become a bridge to unify the jagged but organized composition. In Untitled (Collage), 1977, Wimberley combines torn bits of paper, including newsprint, over a lightly washed abstract background. The composition is complex, but the collage overall has a light refined feel. In his acrylic paintings, Wimberley will often include a singular collage element “hidden” in a painting (this can be pieces of canvas, balsa wood, paper, cardboard, or other found objects), the viewer only finding the secret treasure with closer examination. Patience is rewarded with these subtle but strong works.
In 2018 Wimberley was included in Acts of Art and Rebuttal, an exhibition revisiting the 1971 seminal exhibition Rebuttal to the Whitney Museum Exhibition: Black Artists in Rebuttal, at the Hunter College Art Galleries. In 2016, Ronald and Monique Ollie donated their important collection of black art to the Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri, which included works by Frank Bowling, Sam Gilliam, Stanley Whitney, and several paintings and collages by Frank Wimberley. Upcoming in May, Wimberley will be included in Creating Community: Cinque Gallery Artists taking place at the Art Students League. The Cinque Gallery was founded in 1969 by artists Romare Bearden (1911–1988), Ernest Crichlow (1914–2005), and Norman Lewis (1909–1979) to exhibit the work of both new and established African American artists, and to provide community educational programs.
Over this last year, Wimberley’s paintings have been acquired by the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Saint Louis Art Museum; and the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens. Frank Wimberley is exclusively represented by Berry Campbell Gallery. Frank Wimberley: Collage will open on Thursday, March 18, 2021 and will continue through April 17, 2021.