Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism @ The Luggage Store Gallery

11 Jun

photo courtesy of The Luggage Store Gallery

The white man had a stronghold on a lot of things and notoriety in Abstract Expressionism was no exception. The most recognized American artists from the 1950s to the 1960s were rarely women or people of color. The civil rights movement really started kicking in as this particular art style bled into alternate approaches.

Curator Carlos Villa creates a revisionist approach to history with his group show Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism at The Luggage Store Gallery. Villa features artists whose work pulsated in the undercurrents of the San Francisco Bay Area movement. Acceptance of furious drips and swatches of rich painted color as markers of the movement’s style and energy would be only to acknowledge the work of mainstream American artists as Jackson Pollock and Richard Diebenkorn, among others. Villa successfully broadens the definition of who and what makes up Abstract Expressionism.

Allan Gordon, an African American professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento is one of the overwhelming numbers of exhibiting artists who taught during the time of Abstract Expressionism. Gordan brings sculpture and conceptual intent into what is more of a painter’s movement based on spontaneity of energy and emotion. Gordan’s mixed medium “Vanitas Pastry Box” challenges the traditional execution of sixteenth and seventeenth century European still life paintings in the vanitas style. Set against the wall of The Luggage Store, at 21″ x 16.5″ x 17″ the two tiered plastic case enshrines reproductions of chocolate and pink sugar glazed doughnuts, accompanied by the lower portion of a human jaw bone, toy snake, bone colored plastic toy animal, vase, spoon and various shaped foe feces – one in the shape of a doughnut. Just as vanitas still life paintings, Gordon takes on moral implications of vanity in the practice of exquisitely rendering meaningless possessions and pleasurable foods. There is a certain irrelevance in the sensuously decorated confections when they soon turn to an unglamorous mass of excrement. The skull makes for a constant reminder of impending death, as usual.
The breadth of this 35-artist exhibition includes feathered fashions, ceramic, plaster, wire and wooden sculptures, watercolor, oil, and acrylic paintings, etching and screenprint. Opening night was jammed packed with people of all varieties and well worth faring the slight humidity of The Luggage Store’s second floor gallery space.

Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism is on view through July 31, 2010 at The Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco.


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