KEVIN BEASLEY, APPAU JNR BOAKYE-YIADOM, MOHAMED BOUROUISSA AND DEVIN B. JOHNSON13.04.23 - 20.05.23
Ritornellos is a group exhibition with Kevin Beasley, Mohamed Bourouissa, Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom and Devin B. Johnson, presented within an exhibition design by Studio Tre.
Ritornellos takes the concept of the musical refrain as a point of departure to explore contemporary manifestations of assemblage in painting, sculpture and sound, presenting artworks that combine not only a diversity of materials but also a multiplicity of narratives, cultures and histories.
The idea of using a musical term to reflect upon the notion of assemblage is inspired by French philosophers Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari’s chapter on the ‘Ritournelle’ in A Thousand Plateaus (1980). Designating a recurrent instrumental section interspersed with rhythmical variations and contrasting episodes, the ritornello – ‘little return’ in Italian, commonly called ‘refrain’ in English – became a term employed by Deleuze & Guattari to describe the ‘logic of multiplicities’ underlying any formation of an assemblage. Such assemblages can be individual (the atoms and organs composing a body, as well as the diverse characteristics forming an identity), collective (the formation of cities, communities and territories), or artistic (e.g. a painting made with an array of lines, textures and colours; a sculptural composition made of multiple materials and fragments; or a melody in which converge a diversity of sounds, movements and counterpoints).
Challenging notions of unity and linearity, the artists in Ritornellos consider the multitude of rhythms – periodic, circadian, liturgical – that define territories and the relations between the beings living in them. This process is similarly identified by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing in The Mushroom at the End of the World (2015), wherein she reads the environment as a series of polyphonic assemblages in which ‘autonomous melodies intertwine’.
The artists included in Ritornellos have been selected for their unique approaches, which each highlight a different means of stretching the practice of assemblage beyond its art historical definition as a three-dimensional technique, using it as a way to think about identity formation, both individual and collective, as an interlocking montage of disparate parts, constantly modified by elements coming from the outside.
In the first room, Devin B. Johnson presents a painting representing a vocalist singing in a choir, evoking the ritualistic dimension of communal singing while musing on the beautiful and terrible histories held by the lineage of African American musical traditions. Focusing on a single figure, Johnson’s scene invokes the interstitial space between the real and the imagined, creating an emotional atmosphere that lives equally between memory and growth.
Following into the second room, two additional paintings by Johnson reflect the artist’s interest in urban landscapes. Entitled Glory Road and Paving in the Rain, these two paintings stem from daily walks the artist takes in New York, a practice whereby he observes and records the rhythmic pulsations of his immediate surroundings while attempting to excavate the memories buried in the walls and grounds of the city.
Johnson’s paintings are joined by Appau Jnr Boakye Yiadom’s During: Many Different Exchanges, 2023, a musical composition that explores ideas of polyphony and assemblage by interweaving two sets of musical improvisations performed by two pianists in London, Bruno Heinen and Kerry Yong. Based on sequences of films in which characters are offering flowers – from Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) to Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing (1989) – Boakye-Yiadom’s soundtrack intermingles disparate spaces and times, opening up a space of exchange between two differing interpretations of a similar scene.
Boakye-Yiadom’s soundtrack is accompanied by two double-sided photographs of pianos taken during the recording sessions. Featuring angular, semi-abstracted perspectives of the piano on which the composition was played one one side, and details of the playlist on the reverse, Boakye-Yiadom’s photographs parallel the fractured dimension of the sound piece, highlighting the fragmentary nature of the collective spaces we inhabit.
Works by Kevin Beasley and Mohammed Bourouissa expand upon collective space to explore notions of territories and national identities. Part of his ‘Sites’ series, Beasley’s wall sculpture features cotton house-dresses in bright patterns and beautiful colors that have been draped together and cast in resin, where they take the form of abstracted territories on a map – further underscoring the references being made to the American South, where such articles of clothing might be made and worn, but where landownership and territorial control remains within the hands of white oppressors.
Bourouissa’s metal sculpture J-2, 2018, brings together views of Philadelphia’s famous Black cowboys, offering a disjointed composite of images of a culture the artist was viewing from the outside. For both artists, the defining point of composition is the integration of disparate parts, which come together to define the common threads of the community in view.
Through techniques of fragmentation, accumulation and conflation of materials, as well as the layering of apparently disparate stories and references, the artworks in Ritornellos provoke collisions and dissonances that invite us to reconsider history and geography as the result of a constant entanglement between heterogeneous elements and processes.
Led by Whitley Esteban of Studio Tre, the exhibition design weaves a framework of architectural interventions upon which the layering of identities, ideas, and histories inscribed in the artists’ works is highlighted. The exhibition’s use of a ‘kit of parts’ prioritizes the mutability and reusability of readily available forms and materials – ultimately drawing reference to the temporary superstructures since time immemorial built, deconstructed, and built again in order to facilitate and provide shelter for artistic expression and the impulse to create.
Ritornellos is developed in collaboration with Pantograph, an advisory and management firm for the arts founded in 2022 by Nick Murphy and Rosey Selig-Addiss.
ABOUT THE ARTıSTS
Kevin Beasley (1985, Lynchburg, VA) lives and works in New York. A selection of recent exhibitions and performances includes Prospect.5, New Orleans (2021), in which Beasley realized a multiyear site-specific project in the Lower Ninth Ward; a series of outdoor performances for the Performa 2021 Biennial, New York; The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Material Culture, and the Sonic Impulse, at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (2021); Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America at New Museum, New York (2021); a month-long residency and solo exhibition at A4 Arts Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa (2020); and ASSEMBLY, co-organized by Kevin Beasley, Lumi Tan, Tim Griffin, and Nicole Kaack at The Kitchen, New York (2019). In 2018-2019, Beasley transformed the eighth floor of The Whitney Museum of American Art for his first solo exhibition New York, A view of a landscape, in conjunction with a series of performances. Other past exhibitions include Kevin Beasley, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2018); Hammer Projects: Kevin Beasley, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2017); inHarlem: Kevin Beasley, The Studio Museum in Harlem (2016); and Storylines: Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2015).
Beasley’s work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Guggenheim Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Art; Pérez Art Museum Miami; Tate, London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; ICA Boston; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Hammer Museum; Whitney Museum of American Art, and others.
Mohamed Bourouissa (1978, Bilda, Algeria) lives and works in Paris. Bourouissa has had solo exhibitions at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London, UK (2021); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark (2021); ar/ge kunst, Bolzano, Italy (2020); Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin, Germany (2020); Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, France (2019); Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France (2018); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2018); Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France (2017); Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA (2017); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (2016); Savannah College of Arts and Design, Atlanta, GA (2011); Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA (2011), among others.
His work is represented in notable public collections worldwide, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France; Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland; Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France; Fonds National d’art contemporain, Paris, France; FRAC Bretagne, Rennes, France; FRAC Franche-Comté, Besançon, France; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Pinault Collection, Paris, France; Sammlung Philara, Düsseldorf, Germany; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; Weng Collection, Krefeld, Germany, among others.
Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom (1984, London) lives and works in London, UK. Boakye-Yiadom received a bachelor’s degree in fine art painting with honors from the Winchester School of Art and a postgraduate diploma from Royal Academy Schools, London. Boakye-Yiadom’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Recent projects and performances include Before: Socialized, Circularized, Linearized, Artificialized, Corrupt Time, Southwark Park Gallery, London (2022); During: Changeable Behaviour/ Behavioural Change (Here Soon), Quench Gallery, Margate (2021); During: Compliment, the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh (2022); Receiver, a group exhibition at Focal Point Gallery, Southend (2022); and Solos, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London (2020).
Devin B. Johnson (b. 1992, Los Angeles) lives between New York and Los Angeles. Johnson obtained his BA in Fine Arts from the California State University of Channel Islands (2015) and received a Masters of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute (2019). In addition to being named a 2023 Artist-in- Residence for Fountainhead, Miami, he was selected as an Artsy Vanguard (2022), named to Forbes 30 Under 30 Art and Design (2022) list, was included in Cultured’s “Young Artists 2021,” and was one of sixteen artists from around the world selected for the inaugural year of the Black Rock Senegal residency (2020). Recent exhibitions include Night Owl, Massimo de Carlo (2022); Dak’Art Biennial, Dakar, Senegal (2022); Between Ground and Sky, Nicodim, New York (2022), My Heart Cries, I Set Out an Offering for You, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2021, solo); Long Walk, Galeria Nicodim, Bucharest (2021, solo); Melody of a Memory, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2020, solo); When You Waked Up the Buffalo, Nicodim, Los Angeles (2020); Hollywood Babylon: A Re-Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, Jeffrey Deitch, Nicodim, AUTRE Magazine, Los Angeles (2020); Atmosphere of Certain Uncertainty, Residency Gallery, Inglewood (2019, solo); and Incognito, ICA LA, Los Angeles (2019).
His work is in the collection of Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Pond Society, Shanghai; the Rubell Museum, Miami; the Columbus Museum of Art; Longlati Foundation, Shanghai; and many others.
ABOUT STUDIO TRE
Studio Tre is a design practice working across a wide-ranging scale of architectural and interior design. Current projects span the Americas and Europe, from residential to commercial in use, building upon the experience of the three founders’ leadership of projects across the globe for discerning clientele and past associated design studios. The studio was founded in 2022 by Whitley Esteban, Ernesto Gloria, and Kristina Mosco, and maintains offices in New York and Florida. For more information on Studio Tre: Web: https://tre.studio Instagram: @studiotreprojects Inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pantograph is a catalyst for creative individuals and enterprises looking to realize impactful cultural objectives. We provide strategic advisory and management to galleries, foundations, private clients, and artists, supporting our clients to identify new ambitions, strategize their achievement, and deliver plans for implementation. Pantograph was founded in 2022 by Nick Murphy and Rosey Selig-Addiss. For more information on Pantograph: Web: https://pantograph.global Inquiries: email@example.com