P·P·O·W is pleased to present works by Gerald Lovell, Shellyne Rodriguez, and Martin Wong.
For Gerald Lovell (b. 1992), painting is an act of biography. His large-scale acrylic paintings, which combine flat, impressionistic brushwork with thick daubs of impasto, are informed by self-portraits or photographs of his friends, a strategy for cementing memories and fleeting emotions. Lovell’s portraits refuse the notion that all Black figures put down on canvas are somehow political. Rather, his work records a deep commitment to fostering alternative community narratives by imbuing his subjects with social agency and self-determinative power, while also revealing individualistic details that lay their essential humanity bare. In a series of new works, Lovell grapples with loneliness, covid, and preconception. In intimate still lives, Lovell imbues quotidian and domestic objects with the personal and psychological potency of his portraits. In a new large-scale self-portrait and a small study of his slender ankles, Lovell studies his own body to explore the discordance between his understanding of his own identity verses outside perceptions. Born in Chicago to Puerto Rican and Black parents, Lovell began painting at the age of 25 after dropping out of the graphic design program at the University of West Georgia. His work has been exhibited at P·P·O·W, New York; Anthony Gallery, Chicago, IL; Jeffrey Deitch, the Moore Building, Miami, FL; MINT, Atlanta, GA; Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; the Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA; and the Houston Museum of African American Culture, Houston, TX, among others. His work is currently on view as Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich, Switzerland and at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA in What is Left Unspoken, Love, March 24 - August 14, 2022, as part of the High Museum’s permanent collection.
Shellyne Rodriguez (b. 1977) is a Bronx-based artist, educator, historian, writer, and community organizer who works in a variety of media, including drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture. Rodriguez stewards the histories and stories of people that have shaped her lived experience, describing her practice as “the depiction and archiving of spaces and subjects engaged in strategies of survival against erasure and subjugation.” Rodriguez’s work looks at the ways in which the diverse social fabric of the Bronx is rewoven as the people and their cultures coexist, utilizing language and sociopolitical references to unite portraits of individuals from various communities living together. In a series of recent, highly detailed colored pencil drawings and new ceramic reliefs, Rodriguez captures the daily lives of New York communities, specifically in the South Bronx. Pairing aesthetics of Baroque and hip-hop culture, these works depict the contemporary landscape of alienation and perseverance. Engaging with the legacy of the Ashcan School, who bore witness to the rise of the modern metropolis and depicted how the poor and working class in New York enclaves were transformed by this, Rodriguez views figures such as Alice Neel, Jane Dickson, and Martin Wong as an extension of this tradition and situates her practice alongside them. Rodriguez earned her MFA from Hunter College in studio art and her BFA in visual and critical studies from the School of Visual Arts. Her work has been shown at The Nathan Cummings Foundation, New York, NY; Cue Art Foundation, New York, NY; Casa Warmu, Quito, Ecuador; Queens Museum, New York, NY; and El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY, among others. Rodriguez has held residencies at Hunter College, New York, NY and the Shandaken Project, Catskills, NY. She has been an Adjunct Professor at the School of Visual Arts and Hunter College, and a teaching artist at the Bronx Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.
A “documenter of the constellation of social life,” Martin Wong (1946-1999) developed highly innovative approaches to technique and form, creating rich surfaces and intricate details formed from architectural space, graphic text, constellations and American Sign Language. Stuffed like a mattress, the sculpture Untitled, c. 1986 is a heart-shaped painting of bricks, among the most tender and frequent symbols in Wong’s oeuvre. Written in black hand signals at the center of the composition is the phrase “Love for Sale,” an example of Wong’s effort to imbue romanticism into his depictions of the cruelties of New York, and American life in the 1980s and 1990s. When visitors would come to his studio, he would often ask them active the sculpture by sitting in the work through the duration of the visit. Wong was born in Portland, Oregon and raised in the Chinatown district of San Francisco, California. He studied ceramics at Humboldt State University, graduating in 1968. He was active in the performance art groups, The Cockettes and Angels of Light before moving to New York in 1978. He exhibited for two decades at notable downtown galleries including EXIT ART, Semaphore, and P·P·O·W, among others before his passing in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness. His work is represented in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; The Bronx Museum of The Arts, New York, NY; The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, among others. Human Instamatic, a comprehensive retrospective, opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts in November 2015 before traveling to the Wexner Center for the Arts in 2016 and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in 2017. In the fall of 2022, the Museo Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Madrid will present Martin Wong: Malicious Mischief, the first extensive, touring exhibition of Wong’s work in Europe. Curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen and Agustín Pérez-Rubio, this exhibition is organized by KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin and produced in collaboration with the Camden Art Centre, London, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.