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The January/February “Picks” selected by the Committee on Women in the Arts reflect on the difficult pursuit of creative freedom through idiosyncratic yet careful explorations of color, form, genre, and medium as well as voice and address. The results are odd, anxious atmospheres that test reality’s bodily contours and lament the strange alienations and lurking injustices that constitute normalcy.

Joan Semmel, Untitled (Fem Folio), 2007, Digital Print, 12 x 12 inches, copyright©Joan Semmel/Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York


Mika Tajima: You Must Be Free
January 22 through March 12, 2022
Kayne Griffin, Los Angeles

From an early investigation into the regulatory and relational structures of human bodies in built environments, Mika Tajima’s recent work extends her inquiry into the conditions of human agency and self-determinacy. This exhibition focuses on the necessity and impossibility of freedom in our contemporary moment. The title, You Must Be Free, appears as an external command to achieve freedom and produces a contradictory tension that reveals a social limit to its practice. The speech act presents freedom as a pressing desire and controlling demand on the subject, underlining the entwinement of control and freedom. The animating force of this paradoxical directive is manifested in this exhibition as air pressure and its circulation through contained and porous objects and architecture.


Brittany Tucker: Burnout
January 8 through February 5, 2022
Steve Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, California

Burnout is a solo exhibition by Vienna-based Brittany Tucker featuring new large-scale loosely rendered paintings, half of which incorporate text that was spray-painted on in a street-tag manner. Tucker’s works of the past few years often juxtaposed a realistic likeness of the artist interacting with cartoon-like characters. In these works, her principal cartoon nemesis of the past, a smiling, often taunting white man, is featured in but one canvas, where he is spilling black paint off the bottom edge of the canvas. Hand prints and foot prints mark the background around him, but Tucker is otherwise absent from the scene. When Tucker’s likeness appears in other works, she appears to be uncomfortable, contorted, or obscured. According to the artist, these works represent her desire to shut out the world’s expectations of a Black female artist and to work more impulsively. As a consequence, they represent an unrestrained portrait of her psychological state as an expat living, working and studying in Vienna in which confusion, sadness, emotional fragility, self-reflection, honesty and ultimately courage and optimism are portrayed.


Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game
October 28, 2021 through April 3, 2022
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Joan Semmel: Skin in the Game includes approximately 40 paintings that show the remarkable continuity and assiduity of Semmel’s practice, and focus on four main themes—erotic abstraction; the self; expressive figuration; and photography and painting—that traverse five decades of work and reveal a strong counter narrative to the traditional telling of the history of painting in the United States from the late 1960s to today. Semmel’s work reflects the ongoing struggle for women’s equal representation and power to make decisions about their own bodies and sexuality while centering female empowerment through the self. In Semmel’s own words: “I do not pretend to address the problems of all women in the world. My work is personal and I speak for myself. Women artists have to speak for themselves and then unite to fight the political fight.”


Allison Katz—Artery
January 14 through March 13, 2022
Camden Art Centre, Arkwright Road, London

Attending to the idiosyncratic and eccentric, to personal mythologies and embodied experience, painter Allison Katz treats her own biography as source material, as well as drawing from dream objects, art historical references, and the texture of everyday life. Her exhibition unfolds through a series of biographical anecdotes and moments of synchronicity, opening the world up to a game of allusions, double entendre, slips and wordplay.


Emily: Desert Painter of Australia
January 21 through March 12, 2022
Gagosian, Paris, France

Emily: Desert Painter of Australia is the first solo exhibition in France of the work of Emily Kame Kngwarreye (1910–1996). Emily is unique among Indigenous Australian painters for her rapid and systematic exploration of different styles and for her bold inventiveness with regard to form and color. Over time, her mesmerizing early “dot” paintings ceded to more gestural canvases, reduced in their detail and liberated in their formal qualities. Until her death in 1996, she painted prolifically on both intimate and grand scale, with brushes, sticks, and fingertips on unstretched linen laid flat on the ground, sitting beside or within the composition itself


Laurie Anderson: The Weather
September 24, 2021 through July 31, 2022
Hirshorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.

Laurie Anderson: The Weather is the largest-ever U.S. exhibition of artwork by celebrated multimedia artist Laurie Anderson. Spanning her groundbreaking video and performance works from the 1970s to recent years, the exhibition guides visitors through an immersive audiovisual experience in the Museum’s second-floor galleries. This dynamic survey showcases the artist’s boundless creative process by highlighting time-based media, including To the Moon (2018), a 15-minute virtual reality work, as well as the largest exhibition of her paintings to date.


Lucy Kim: Skin Might See
January 24 – March 5, 2022
University Gallery, UMASS Lowell

Skin Might See includes the first gallery showing of Kim’s Knife Paintings, as well as work from her Auto-Synthetic series. Kim is a visual artist who uses mold making and illusionistic painting to create hybrid objects that navigate the borderlands between painting and sculpture. She describes mold making and casting as a “sculptural surrogate for photography.” In both bodies of work there is intrigue in the tension between skin and cast surface. Curator Julie Poitras Santos wrote that in Kim’s oeuvre “the surface skin competes for visual primacy with the three dimensional form…“ These startling integuments often seem at odds with the kitchen accoutrements and other structures that lie beneath, creating a frisson and a place of interrogation between media and meaning.

Filed under: CWA Picks, Uncategorized