MIAMI (October 29, 2016) – Nina Johnson is pleased to announce I Was Going to Call It Your Name But You Didn’t Let Me, Awol Erizku’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. Presenting a group of 20 paintings alongside a conceptual sound collage of music and sonic ephemera, Erizku traffics in the space between sound and sight.
The paintings bear the same subject matter: a disembodied hand, poised and manicured, holding a rose—not taking it or giving it, but only holding it. Appropriated from nail salon signage in Los Angeles, where the artist keeps a studio, the hand is both localized and ubiquitous, appearing across the country in interchangeable locales, signifying a variety of ethnicities and communities. Not only is it the first time Erizku has introduced figuration into his practice, it references his repeated use of floral imagery across his multi-disciplinary practice.
Here, the hand is stripped of its relationship to the nail salon, and the surrounding urban landscape. It becomes something to be emptied and repeatedly filled with different colors, both a meditation on post-Warholian production, and a response to color theory recalling Joseph Albers’ pedagogical exercises that influenced Erizku when he was a student at Cooper Union. Painted on sheets of OSB instead of canvas, these fabricated ready-mades are adorned with rolled or buffed-out segments of paint, teetering on the divide between the studio and the street as they respond to different moments in art history, as well as the constantly evolving surface of the city.
Accompanying these works is a mix of pop songs and sound bites from a variety of media, often pulled from Youtube and Soundcloud. This shifting composition teases out different emotions from the paintings, each of which is named after the song playing in the studio when it was completed. The tension between the iterative paintings—each unique, yet similar to the rest—and the unifying force of the music flowing throughout the gallery echoes the experience of listening to music—everyone hears the same song in a completely new way.
Awol Erizku (b. 1988, Addis Ababa) received his B.A. From Cooper Union in 2010, his M.F.A from Yale in 2014, and his recent exhibitions include those at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015); the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2015); The Only Way is Up at Hasted Kraeutler, New York (2014); and has lectured in conjunction with Carrie Mae Weems at the Guggenheim, New York (2014). His solo exhibitions include New Flower | Images of the reclining Venus at The FLAG Art Foundation, New York (2015); and Bad II The Bone at Duchamp Detox Clinic, Los Angeles (2016). Erizku lives and works in New York & Los Angeles.
Nina Johnson is a contemporary art space in Miami, Florida. Opened as Gallery Diet in 2007, the gallery has produced exhibitions by emerging and established artists from around the world.