The bent posture of a semi-abstracted female silhouette dominates 15 of the 17 artworks by Brittney Leeanne Williams, currently on view at Alexander Berggruen [March 5–April 14, 2021]. This show of paintings and works on paper made 2020–2021 embodies the Chicago-based artist’s investigations into the physical and psychological exhaustion of being a black woman in the United States. Sensuously folded, a recurring figure’s posture has been simplified as a smooth rounded arc to indicate the back. A few simple curves imply the breast and belly, and introduce a void beneath them. Variations come from other formal components that energize and solidify the work. In addition to her frequent use of red on the figures, which the artist discusses in various interviews as referencing the pulsing lights of ambulances in Chicago, Williams also includes subtle line work, elements of the natural environment as setting, and positions of arms and legs that create the positive and negative spaces in the compositions.
In Williams’ work, the negative spaces are just as much a positive form of the bent figures. She implies that all the crevices and surfaces are deserving of her affection, and our attention.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on the work of Brittney Leeanne Williams and her unparalleled explorations of the human figure in relationship with the landscape. By working with a single posture, the contorted or bent over body, the Chicago-based artist speaks of psychological states as well as the misshapen and emotional experiences of being a woman. […] Whether its shape reflects in the mountain range in the background or it carries tree-tops, has the sun setting within or an ocean underneath, gets rained over, or dissolved in the wind, it becomes a powerful symbol of different scenarios in which women bend, especially on a psychological level.
“These works expand on my interest in bringing together expressionistic, almost symbolic landscapes with geometric picture planes, arcs, and borders,” the artist told Juxtapoz about the particular element she was exploring with these pieces. “They bow, bend, and break out of borders while their feet inch into the beyond.”
Fox’s canvases use a vibrant array of colors that are tempered, or appear worn down, evoking the shadowy natures of their subjects. A skillful tightrope walker, Fox operates as both observer and participant: on a cellular level, the canvases convey that the artist is deeply intimate with the kind of life, always lived outside the ordinary, that he depicts. At same time, the structures of Fox’s compositions indicate an understanding of the painters and paintings that have come before him. The resulting work exudes a visceral synergy.
Fox’s show at Alexander Berggruen consists of paintings that echo those photos and drawings—an oozing array of opulent canvases organized around solo figures. Mostly female, the characters smoke, they straddle stuffed animals, they clasp their knees in seductive disdain, they eye us with casual contempt, they sprawl out across the floor or invite us to follow them deeper into the canyon.
Taking in the new body of work he’s amassed, I mention to Fox that it feels not unlike a great album, where the work conveys a single moment but also evokes an entire journey. “I always think of shows as albums,” says Fox. “I use that to help encapsulate certain moments and not worry if it’s off brand. I even sometimes think, Ah, shit, I’m making a bad album here. But I also like that feeling—like it’s going to be the ’80s Dylan album that you one day understand.”
Guzmán’s solo exhibition at Alexander Berggruen is her first in the United States since [the 58th Venice Biennale], and it finds her turning, mostly, to views around her studio, where she was confined during COVID quarantine. It’s a breathtaking retreat. From the artist’s window, palm trees spread out over lush tropical hills. Garden pathways wind through forests where children, birds, and animals peer through thick trees. Guzmán’s work recalls Henri Rousseau’s in its naïve, mystical depictions of forest creatures and foliage. But her most exhilarating landscapes also make me think of Lucas Arruda, who inexplicably transforms the unyielding Brazilian Amazon into placid fields like Mark Rothko paintings. As does Arruda, Guzmán deftly invites a kind spiritual awakening in her vibrant forest scenes.
Tropical vistas, mise-en-abyme effects, and images of a plump cat are among the many lush pleasures in this young Dominican painter’s exhibition “my flora, my fauna,” at the Alexander Berggruen gallery. Guzmán’s colorful works, in acrylic gouache, depict a surreal world in which domestic interiors spill into jungle landscapes.
In Hulda Guzmán’s solo exhibition at Alexander Berggruen in New York, paintings of figures, flora, and fauna from the Dominican Republic depict an artist exploring reality from multiple perspectives. The paintings, at times featuring the artist, her cat, and conjured-up creatures, are large, while the figures within are usually small, basking in the warm hues of the Dominican light. In self-portraits, Guzmán unfolds a scene from various points of view, bringing reflective opportunities to the forefront. As an optimistic response to the anthropocene–an era marked by the effect of humans on the environment–the artist paints nature’s omnipresence in a scale that is overwhelming. A feeling of acuity and gumption is present. After studies at the Chavon School of Design in the Dominican Republic, Guzmán furthered her schooling in photography and mural painting at the National School of Visual Arts in Mexico which layered complexity to her technique. Born in 1984 in Santo Domingo, Guzmán was featured in the Dominican Republic’s pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. GARAGE caught up with the artist about her current show, while she was at her rural ocean-side studio.
Through nearly 50 works by more than two dozen artists—including Lucian Freud, Walton Ford, and Paola Pivi—this online show explores the myriad creative attitudes that inform how animals manifest in contemporary art. Specific contexts explored in the exhibition range from domestic realms inhabited by pets and livestock to the wild landscapes known to bears, elephants, anteaters, and beyond.
Spanning the past four decades, the paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and other types of art on view in “Animal Kingdom” coalesce into a spectacle as elegant and chaotic as the natural world they evoke.
Brittney Leeanne Williams’ paintings depict figures in transformation and bodies subject to unseen pressures or forces. In Williams’ own words, the figures twist and knot themselves into emotional landscapes. These figurative and pictorial inversions create a body-space continuum. Their postures hold tensions that connect the present moment to centuries past.
The Chicago-based artist’s rich, vivid works see her employ a recurring red figure who plays host to the experiences, emotions and memories of women.
The Canvas speaks with Dominique Lévy, Casey Kaplan, Alex Logsdail, and Alexander Berggruen; four dealers representing four very different galleries that range considerably in both size and scope, to get their thoughts on an instantly altered art business, and what that means for the gallery ecosystem going forward. Alexander Berggruen, whose Upper East Side gallery space opened in October, has placed works by artists ranging from Ed Ruscha to Paul Kremer with collectors who acquired the pieces solely based on their digital images. The gallery has an online private view of its current exhibition, ‘Quarters: Anne Buckwalter, Dustin Hodges, JJ Manford, Brittney Leeanne Williams’ through its Artlogic platform that it has shared with its clients; and a 3D virtual-reality tour of the exhibition has been made publicly available via Matterport’s technology on the gallery’s website.
Alexander Berggruen debuts—with a show featuring John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Jonas Wood, Emily Mae Smith, and Richard Prince—in a renovated historic space on Manhattan’s Upper East Side
In August, former Christie’s specialist Alexander Berggruen announced that he would become the latest dealer to defect from the auction world and venture out to open a private gallery with his name on the door. Taking over the address that once housed the uptown digs of Mitchell-Innes & Nash, Berggruen’s eponymous gallery opens this Friday with a stacked group show called “Words,” focused on how artists have embraced the verbal in their practices. Heavy hitters known for their motto-based works, such as Ed Ruscha, Barbara Kruger, and Lawrence Weiner, will be represented, alongside the late Cy Twombly and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who both have text slinking through their canvases. Younger artists such as Jonas Wood, Matthew Cerletty, and Emily Mae Smith will also have work in the show.
The Yale-educated, San Francisco-born, Alexander Berggruen cuts an impressive figure at thirty-one years old. The son of Gretchen and John Berggruen, owners of the well-respected Berggruen Gallery in San Francisco, and grandson of dealer, collector, and philanthropist Heinz Berggruen, it might surprise some to discover that Alex didn’t always intend to follow his family’s path in the art world. But after stints at BlockRock, Google, and ArtBinder, he ultimately ended up in the nexus for much of the art world, as a junior specialist in Christie’s Impressionist & Modern department in 2014.
Make sure to consult Google Maps before you head out on your first gallery crawl this fall. Over the summer, there has been a mini-flurry of gallery moves and closings across New York City.
One major change is taking place in Chelsea, where mega-dealer Larry Gagosian has absorbed the storefronts next door to his already gargantuan 24th Street location. They were formerly home to Pace Gallery and Mary Boone Gallery.