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Deana Lawson:New Photographs
4/21/2017 - 5/26/2017





DEANA LAWSON, Sons of Cush, 2016, Inkjet print, mounted on Sintra


Rhona Hoffman Gallery is very pleased to present New York-based photographer Deana Lawson’s second solo exhibition. Deana Lawson carefully orchestrates and captures domestic portraiture that is richly detailed, intimate, and communicates a sincere love for the black body and interpersonal relationships. Raw, imperfect settings like a chaotic apartment with torn furniture and roughly covered windows, drawn into precise focus with Deana Lawson’s large format camera, provide a stage for the subjects, who are strangers or recent acquaintances Deana Lawson is drawn to photograph. Each work paints a rich narrative of humanity, selfhood, and relationships; taken together, Deana Lawson’s oeuvre provides a singular, collective portrait of the African diaspora and African-American identity. Musician and critic Greg Tate recently wrote, “Drawing the spectator’s eye to how people command space within the frame, how they proclaim ownership of selfhood before the camera is a recurring motif. Her work seems always about the desire to represent social intimacies that defy stereotype and pathology while subtly acknowledging the vitality of lives abandoned by the dominant social order.”

Deana Lawson’s new works, also on view in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, deepen her exploration of male and female strength, sexuality, and familial dynamics. After photographing in the Caribbean, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lawson returned to the American landscape, picturing the black body in Alabama, Los Angeles, and Rochester, NY. Her photographs subvert simple categorization and dominant cultural stereotypes. In Sons of Cush, 2017, the tough appearance of a heavily muscled, tattooed man is countered by his soft, charming eyes and protective embrace of a lovingly-dressed infant. In Nicole, a nude woman crouches on a rug like a tigress; juxtaposing her fiercely confrontational and seductive gaze is the pink and purple children’s playhouse positioned directly behind her. Deana Lawson plans each thoughtful detail in her compositions, yet she allows space for the workings of chance, humanity, and the magic of photography.

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Deana Lawson is currently featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial; in 2015 Lawson’s solo exhibition inaugurated the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ruttenberg Contemporary Photography Series; and she recently had a solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum-St. Louis. Group exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Studio Museum, Harlem; MoMA P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center; Artists Space, New York; and the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, TIME Magazine, BOMB, The Collector's Guide to New Art Photography, Photo District News, Time Out New York, Contact Sheet #154, and PQ Journal for Contemporary Photography. Lawson is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the John Gutmann Photography Fellowship, a Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, an Aaron Siskind Fellowship Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant. Deana has participated in the Workspace residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Light Work residency in Syracuse, and the Visual Studies Workshop residency in Rochester, New York.
Julia Fish
Threshold II
4/21/2017 - 5/26/2017

JULIA FISH, Study for Threshold — Plan, North [ blue with orange ] # 2, 2017, Gouache on paper


Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present Threshold II, the gallery’s third solo exhibition with Chicago-based artist Julia Fish. A deep interest in modernist form and color inspires Julia Fish’s attentive mapping and observation of her immediate environment. Since moving into her two-story brick home and studio in 1992, she has focused almost exclusively on the architectural details, spaces, and surfaces of her house as source imagery for luminous, poetic works on paper and paintings. In a series begun in 2009 and titled Threshold, the artist examines the six liminal spaces between two rooms. The distilled form of each meeting point is assigned a primary or secondary color, loosely based upon the threshold’s orientation to light within the home. First exhibited in the 2010 Whitney Biennial, Threshold’s codex of six forms and colors has continued to inspire, develop, and be re-invented as its own language.

Six new gouache-on-paper paintings extract the essential structure of each Threshold as a solid shape, a new approach to this body of work generated from the artist’s earlier Living Rooms series (2001-2005). Beautifully layered gouache in each form’s color creates a thick, soft surface, which is embedded with its complimentary color in an oscillating pattern of horizontal and vertical brushstrokes. Light’s central role in her practice is referenced directly in this exhibition through Lumine IV : asunder [ twilight ], a new oil painting that re-organizes the hexagonal structure of a lighting fixture in the artist’s sleeping room. Threshold – Matrix : Equinox, a large lyrical oil on canvas painting, interweaves the outlines of all six thresholds like a musical score, broken into staccato rhythms of each distinct shape. Expanding on earlier works on light and dark ground, the artist combined both approaches by dividing her canvas into light and dark, a subtle allusion to today’s uncertain times. For Julia Fish, the domestic unlocks the universal. Like artists such as Vija Celmins, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, and Gerhard Richter, her attentive depiction and careful distillation serves as a conceptual investigation of the nature of perception and art itself.

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Julia Fish received her BFA degree at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and MFA degree at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. She has lived and worked in Chicago since 1985. Her work has been presented in twenty-three solo exhibitions since 1980 and was the subject of a ten-year survey exhibition, View, at The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago in 1996. Paintings and works on paper are included in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Yale University Art Gallery, The Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, University of Michigan Museum of Art, and Illinois State Museum, Springfield. National and international exhibitions include, among others: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; MAK Center for Art and Architecture/Schindler House, Los Angeles; Tang Museum, Skidmore College; Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin; Galerie Remise, Bludenz, Austria; most recently : 2010, the Whitney Biennial, and Homebodies, MCA Chicago, 2013. Fish’s studio work and research have been supported by grants and fellowship awards from the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts /Painting, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, and the Cal Arts / Alpert Ucross Residency Prize, among others. She was also the recipient of research and travel awards from the University of Illinois at Chicago where she is Professor Emerita and UIC Distinguished Professor Emerita of Art in the School of Art and Art History.
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