Using Black to Paint Light:
Walking Through a Matisse Exhibit
Thinking about the Arctic and Matthew Henson
The unanticipated shock: so much believed to be white is actually – strikingly –
blue. Endless blueness. White is blue. An ocean wave freezes in place. Blue.
Whole glaciers, large as Ohio, floating masses of static water. All of them pale
frosted azuls. It makes me wonder – yet again – was there ever such a thing
as whiteness? I am beginning to grow suspicious. An open window.
I am blue.
I am a frozen blue ocean.
I am a wave struck cold in midair.
The wave is nude beneath her blue dress.
Her skin is blue.
– Robin Coste Lewis
Hauser & Wirth presents ‘Lorna Simpson. Darkening,’ the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery in New York.
Debuting a suite of new large-scale paintings, alongside recent photographic collages and sculpture, the exhibition finds Simpson returning to and building upon themes and motifs at the center of her practice: explorations focused on the nature of representation, identity, gender, race, and history. For more than 30 years, Simpson’s powerful works have entangled viewers in an equivocal web of meaning, drawing upon techniques of collage through the use of found materials, often culled from the pages of vintage Jet and Ebony magazines. In ‘Darkening,’ Simpson continues to thread dichotomies of figuration and abstraction with vast and enthralling tableaux that subsume spliced photos and fragmented text, abstracted beyond comprehension. Equally arresting and poetic, the paintings engage viewers with layers of paradox, capturing the mystifying allure of an arctic landscape in inky washes of blacks, grays, and startling blues.Lorna Simpson, Darkening, 2018. Ink and screenprint on gessoed wood 274.3 x 243.8 x 3.2 cm / 108 x 96 x 1 1/4 in © Lorna Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: James Wang