Curated by BHMF
GOLLY! is an exhibition dedicated to a reflection on the ways in which the personal can construct profound narratives about collectivity and the collective can provide flattened or fragile notions of individuality. The works are a mash up of the artist’s abstract paintings and his pattern based works dedicated to the minstrel like Golliwogs; the former, a meditation on the artist’s Midwest upbringing, of quilting and of distant geographies and, the latter, a grappling with a form of ownership and active detachment of stereotypes from their human implications.
Gardenhire’s Great Plains series is a conflation of aerial views of agricultural fields and the age-old patterns of North American quilting traditions. The works are meticulously layered with dripping geometry that evades the minimalist tradition of the grid as based on squares in favor of a triangular grid system just consistent enough to convince us of its formal rigor and just casual enough to entice us towards the hand made geometries of puckering fabrics and uneven seams typical in quilting. The visceral layering of color and the freshness of the thin layers of paint provide a depth and complexity that embower the visible fragments of primed canvas with the festivity of celebratory banners. These painting awake the spiritual invocation of stained glass while maintaining the humility of the hand as intrinsically divine.
By contrast the Golliwogs series is a body of works on paper that parade minstrelsy through the inhuman caricature of black face. Decoratively playful and colorfully exciting these works are expressly 2-dimensional patterns that do not permit the viewer to imagine beyond the surface of the paper. This intentional flattening of the trope is engaged in the work of subversion and reclaiming of that which was created to demonize and ridicule into enticing and rousing images simultaneously disturbing and telling. The new fragment of this series, painted on reclaimed antique prints, ignite the historical implications in the construction of the Golliwog caricature and the capacity of this parody to trump nuance. The gathering of these works as a collective composition sits in contrast to the conscious spatiality of the Great Plains series inviting the viewer to fill in the distance between these seemingly disparate works whose collision of identity and abstraction disrupt the conservative investment in figuration through a formal embodiment of thought. The exhibition is part of the V° Edition of Black History Month Florence.
Gary Jo Gardenhire was born in Kansas, USA in 1954. He received a BA in Anthropology from Antioch College, Ohio in 1976 and began painting seriously while studying at Pratt Institute, New York, where I received the masters in 1983. After a year of figure drawing at Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris, he moved to Italy where he has been based for nearly 30 years.
February 11 – March 14 2020
mon-fri 10:00 am – 9:00 pm – free entrance
SRISA Project Space – Santa Reparata International School of Art
Via Santa Reparata 19r, 50129 Firenze
055 4627374 – 055 5000380 firstname.lastname@example.org – https://srisa.gallery