Kavi Gupta is thrilled to present CAN YOU FEEL IT, a solo show of new work by 2019 MacArthur Genius Grant award winner Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, USA).
Gibson’s jubilant and ever-evolving practice blends the aesthetic heritages of Native America, rave culture, and punk rock, breathing new life into the traditions of Modernist Abstraction. In his paintings, sculptures, garments, performances and films, indigenous craftwork and ancient abstract references coalesce to form metaphysical bridges between 20th century art movements like Geometric Abstraction, Neo-Dada and Pop Art, and contemporary fields of inquiry such as Relational Aesthetics, Institutional Critique and Identity Politics.
For CAN YOU FEEL IT, his first solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta, Gibson presents 14 new paintings and sculptures—including the debut of a never-before-shown body of quilted works. Inspired by four years in the mid-1990s when Gibson called Chicago home, the exhibition’s title echoes the classic house jam of the same name by Chicago-born DJ Larry Fine, a.k.a. Mr. Fingers.
Says Gibson, “This was a period when house music was so welcoming and inclusive, and being in Chicago was very optimistic. There was a space carved out for people of different backgrounds coming together and celebrating each other, letting everything go and having a good time. It felt hopeful. That was a big critical experience for me in terms of thinking about how to respond to a challenging larger culture.”
Included in CAN YOU FEEL IT are three new works from Gibson’s ongoing Punching Bag series (2013–present). Appropriating iconic Everlast punching bags as sculptural supports, Gibson mobilizes bead work, weaving, tassels, and other material interventions to transform objectified targets for abuse into conceptual symbols of strength and beauty. Above all, Gibson’s Punching Bags sparkle with life. As with many of Gibson’s works, they come embedded with references to music, philosophy and pop culture. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (2019) takes its title from an American Standard first sung by Vivienne Segal in the 1940 Broadway premiere of Pal Joey (since covered by Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, and Doris Day, among others). All I ever wanted, all I ever needed (2019) reflects the chorus of Enjoy the Silence, the 1990 smash single by British synth-pop band Depeche Mode. Trapped in the dream of the other (2019) quotes French Post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925 – 1995), who remarked, “If you’re trapped in the dream of the Other, you’re fucked.”
The eight new paintings in CAN YOU FEEL IT similarly bear such culturally percipient titles as, “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before” (from Temptation, by New Order), “To say I love you right out loud” (from Both Sides Now, by Joni Mitchell), and “Before the devil knows you’re dead” (attributed to an Irish saying). In these multi-faceted works, text hovers in a state of tension amid brightly colored, dense optic patterning, drawing dynamic distinctions between figure and ground.