The Coexistence of Beauty and Evocations of Race and Power

Seph Rodney, Hyperallergic, November 14, 2021

I was talking the other day to a class of students about what motivates my looking at art and I unabashedly talked about beauty, about visual art that is beguiling and celebratory withourt caveat or disclaimer.  It's difficult to make an argument for work solely on those terms these days.  And, to be clear, I won't exactly make that argument her, but a group show now on at Welancora gallery in Brooklyn doesn't look askance at beauty or pretend that it can't coexist with conversations about race and power.  Behold features five artists, but for my purposes three of them, Oasa DuVerney, Roberto Visani, and Chris Watts, make objects that are visually alluring, but wrestle with more than just pleasin the eye. (The other two artists, Sana Musasama and Komikka Patton, here don't offer work that brings these tensions into palpable apprehension for the purposes of this review.)

Duverney gives me gorgeous forms and then hits me with her politics with her titles: "A Stoic Mountain of White Guilt" (2020) and "Black Power Wave, A Mounting Lurch" 
(2020).  The wave is reminiscent of Hokusai, but DuVerney makes this form with graphite, so it has a graphic quality that is very much about the dark pigment of her pencil carving a curling, almost grasping shape into being.  These compositons are snarling, gnarled, muscular.  She offers mountains and waves like elemental forces that for her are commensurate with the elemental forces of Black liberation. 

 

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