Glenn Ligon, “Colored”
D’Amelio Terras, New York
May 5 – June 9, 2001
D’Amelio Terras is pleased to present Colored, the first solo exhibition of Glenn Ligon’s paintings at the gallery.
Over the past ten years, Ligon has produced a body of work that foregrounds issues of race and sexuality. Working in a variety of media, he investigates the complexities of representation through a strategy of juxtaposing texts and images that play a role in structuring black identity.
The brightly colored paintings in the exhibition signal an important departure from the black-on-black and black-and-white text paintings for which the artist has become known. To produce the source material for these paintings, Ligon found images in black-themed coloring books from the 70s and had them silk-screened onto large canvases. He gave copies of these images to a group of young school children and asked the kids to color them in. The kids’ drawings then became the basis for these large-scale paintings. Wayne Koestenbaum, poet and cultural critic, wrote about the work in the catalogue of Ligon’s recent solo exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis:
“These paintings notice an epoch when African Americans were deliberately circulating images of blackness and of black identity: Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman, Isaac Hayes, George Washington Carver. New heroes for a new age, these figures, placed in the crayon-wielding hands of children, incited pride, groundedness. However, Ligon’s reliance on techniques of appropriation (silk-screening found images in new combinations, and circulating them in an art market) interrupts the cheerful, progressive momentum of the originals…[W]ith the deliberate use of children’s artistic techniques, he is performing a regression; remarkably, these ‘regressive’ paintings may be his most ‘mature’ work yet.”
Glenn Ligon lives and works in New York. His work was most recently seen in solo exhibitions at the Walker Art Center and the Studio Museum in Harlem. This summer he will begin a DAAD fellowship in Berlin, and will have a solo exhibition at the Munich Kunstverein in August.