Sikkema Jenkins & Co. is pleased to present ALL GOOD FIRES, a solo exhibition of new work by Jeffrey Gibson on view March 13 through April 17, 2021. Gibson’s second solo show with the gallery, the exhibition will feature a diverse range of multimedia work, including two new series of paintings and a new video, entitled TO FEEL MYSELF BELOVED ON THE EARTH. Exploring themes of identity, music, community, and resilience, ALL GOOD FIRES reflects an evolution in Gibson’s practice.
Gibson’s video TO FEEL MYSELF BELOVED ON THE EARTH was produced in the months during the coronavirus pandemic, in the midst of national civil unrest demanding justice and equity for BIPOC. Turning to breathing, physical movement, and nature, Gibson conceived of six different performances centered around the transformation of chaos to stability, and the manifestation of healing through movement. Trained and untrained dancers, from a variety of cultural backgrounds, were filmed in various natural and urban locations wearing garments made by Gibson’s studio. Within a soundscape of polyrhythmic drumming and ambient noises, the dancers transition between meditative breathing and un-choreographed movement to express the oscillating relationship between inner turmoil and harmony.
In his new painted canvases, Gibson’s expands his interpretation of Modernist abstraction and Native American visual languages beyond the hard-edge formations seen in his previous work. These more painterly compositions begin with stained raw canvas, which is then layered with alternating bands of text, rectangles, zig-zags, and diamonds. In works such as I’VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN and THROUGH THE FIRE, one can see soft washes of paint forming the base of the composition; shadows blur into fields of pink, blue, and green to effect a nebulous landscape of color. The visual interplay between these backgrounds and fields of geometric patterns create vivid, emotive textures, reflecting the bold declarations of text inscribed upon them.
Language and music continues to play a central role in Gibson’s oeuvre. Adapting lyrics from iconic pop and dance songs of the 80s and 90s, his paintings complicate the distinction between image and text. Letters are blocked amongst rows of checkerboard squares and fields of diamonds, mirroring the shapes’ angularity through typography. The application of text even extends beyond the canvas, adorning the hand-crafted beaded frames surrounding each painting with corresponding statements. Lyrics allude to the struggles—past and present—of marginalized communities, creating a space through the familiarity of their words for viewers to sit within and interpret. In Gibson’s paintings, language becomes a visual experience, unraveling a spectrum of emotions and experiences; desire, vulnerability, joy, and freedom.
Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado) grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, and England. He received his BFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995), and his MFA in painting from the Royal College of Art, London (1998). He is a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is half Cherokee. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Bard College and lives and works near Hudson, New York.
Gibson’s work was most recently featured in the solo exhibition, When Fire is Applied to Stone it Cracks, at the Brooklyn Museum (2020-2021). Additional solo exhibitions include Nothing Is Eternal, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA (2020); Time Carriers, Esker Foundation, Calgary (2019); Jeffrey Gibson: I WAS HERE, Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA (2019); and Jeffrey Gibson: The Anthropophagic Effect, New Museum, NY (2019). Gibson’s work was also included in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.
His work is held in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Denver Art Museum, CO; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; and Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AR. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2019), Joan Mitchell Foundation, Painters and Sculptors Awards (2015) and a Creative Capital Foundation Grant (2005).