A long-time resident of Chicago, Kerry James Marshall is widely regarded as one of the greatest painters of his generation. Strongly influenced by his experiences as a young man, Marshall developed a signature style during his early years as an artist centring on the life and history of the black subject. His now-substantial body of work offers his perspective on the complexity of the African-American condition, along with its persistent issues of race politics, cultural representation and social emancipation. In an attempt to reconcile the black subject with images of Western ideals, Marshall places both in his paintings, highlighting determinations of black identity that are contextualized by history and the current social-political situation. Also addressing the history of art, Marshall strives to fill what he describes as the “lack in the image bank”, raising pertinent questions about how the art system sustains itself and related issues of legitimation, power and marginalisation.
Yet painting is really only one facet of an exquisitely polymorphous practice that also includes sculpture, photography, installation, collage, video, prints and animated film. It is precisely his aesthetic wealth and visual intelligence that M HKA seeks to foreground in the exhibition Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff – the biggest exhibition of work by Marshall to date, co-produced by a major European museum partnership.
Painting and Other Stuff is comprised of a number of groupings organised around various themes and motivations that Marshall has addressed over his career. They will focus on such ideas as ‘readdressing art history’, ‘notions of beauty’, ‘the image bank’, ‘commemoration’ and ‘the everyday’. Many new works will also be presented for the first time, and numerous series will also be presented together for the first time, for example, his on-going Rythm Mastr comic-strip series - a sort of superhero serialisation based on African mythology - will gets its first outing in its entirety. A key selection of Marshall’s sculptural works will also be exhibited, including Mementos, 1998, a series of giant ink-stamp sculptures along with their related “black power” slogan text prints, and, alongside video experiments, another highlight will be the presentation of a collaborative work-in-progress that Marshall is producing with the Antwerp-based artist Luc Tuymans – an animation currently in its early stages.
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