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835 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60607
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3124320708

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219 North Elizabeth Street
Chicago, IL 60607
By Appointment

Kavi Gupta is a leading contemporary art gallery based in Chicago. Founder Kavi Gupta established his namesake gallery in 2000, in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Today, they operate multiple museum-quality exhibition spaces at 835 W. Washington Blvd. and 219 N. Elizabeth St. in Chicago, and 219/215 E. Buffalo St. in New Buffalo, Michigan, as well as a large-scale warehouse and conservation center and a dedicated space for research and archives. 


Kavi Gupta amplifies voices of diverse and underrepresented artists to expand the canon of art history. Through innovative and ambitious exhibitions, multimedia programming, and rigorous publications, the gallery fosters an evolving conversation among international communities about art and ideas.


Their publishing imprint, Kavi Gupta Editions, designs and publishes high-quality monographs, exhibition catalogues, artist editions, and academic texts, while regularly partnering with institutions and such art publishing leaders as Skira, Mousse, Phaidon, and DAP.


Kavi Gupta’s diverse, international program emphasizes contemporary artists from marginalized communities with complex, multifaceted practices. Working alongside these artists to develop new projects, original scholarship, and historic archives, Kavi Gupta’s program is renowned for its strong academic focus and pioneering vision. 


Kavi Gupta is proud to be a three-time recipient of the prestigious International Association of Art Critics (AICA-USA) Award for Best Show in a Commercial Space Nationally, most recently for Mickalene Thomas in 2014. Since its inception, the gallery program has been supplemented by site-specific installations, public works, academic panels, and curated projects at art fairs.

Artists Represented:
Young-Il Ahn
Firelei Báez
Johanna Billing
Roger Brown
Patrick Chamberlain
Alfred Conteh
Inka Essenhigh
Beverly Fishman
Jeffery Gibson
Richard Hunt
Jae Jarrell
Wadsworth Jarrell
Michael Joo
Deborah Kass
José Lerma
James Little
Manuel Mathieu
Tomokazu Matsuyama
Manish Nai
Angel Otero
Roxy Paine
Kour Pour
Scott Reeder
Clare Rojas
Devan Shimoyama
Mary Sibande
Jessica Stockholder
Tony Tasset
Mickalene Thomas
Gerald Williams
Kennedy Yanko
Works Available By:
Young-IL Aahn
Firelei Báez
Sherman Beck

Roger Brown

Patrick Chamberlain

Willie Cole

Alfred Conteh

Inka Essenhigh

Beverly Fishman

Jeffrey Gibson

Richard Hunt

Jae Jarrell

Wadsworth Jarrell

Michael Joo

Deborah Kass

José Lerma

James Little

Manuel Mathieu

Tomokazu Matsuyama

Esmaa Mohamoud

Manish Nai

Angel Otero

Roxy Paine

Kour Pour

Scott Reeder

Clare Rojas

Devan Shimoyama

Mary Sibande

Jessica Stockholder

Tony Tasset

Mickalene Thomas

Gerald Williams

Kennedy Yanko

Dominic Chambers

Allana Clarke

Basil Kincaid

Suchitra Mattai

Michi Meko

Alisa Sikelianos-Carter

Vito Acconci

Katie Bell

Johanna Billing

Mcarthur Binion

Ed Clark

Pamela Council

Alexandre Diop

Jeff Donaldson

Charles Mason Iii

Barbara Jones-Hogu

Aaditi Joshi

Glenn Kaino

Titus Kaphar

Gracelee Lawrence

Glenn Ligon

Al Loving

Monica Rezman

Thomas Ruff

Stan Squirewell

Jessica Stoller

Chiffon Thomas


 

 
Kavi Gupta


 
Online Programming

Deborah Kass, Jeffrey Gibson, Scott Reeder, Manish Nai, Young-Il Ahn, Patrick Chamberlain

The Written Word



KAVI GUPTA PRESENTS THE WRITTEN WORD, AN ONLINE EXHIBITION EXAMINING THE VISUAL VALUE OF THE VERBAL. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF A PICTURE? Just open your eyes to receive one, or close your eyes to remember one. Offer an artist a thousand words for a picture and you’ll learn what proverbs are worth. Yet, if utterances are fleeting and any story can be told with images, why would a visual artist ever need to rely on words? Each artist featured in The Written Word has its own reasons for making art you have to read in order to really see. Vito Acconci’s Name Calling Chair (1990) strives beyond beauty and utility towards a comic truth, while Glen Ligon’s Study for Negro Sunshine II, #31 reveals the anesthetizing effect of repetition on even the most confounding utterance. Roger Brown’s The Writing in the Sky revels in the circular logic of a picture undermining the power of words that establish the value of pictures; meanwhile, a single proposal from Allen Ruppersberg’s iconic Honey, I rearranged the collection series suggests language’s limitless, if sometimes senseless, potential for codification. Manish Nai’s book sculptures mobilize words as raw material for compacted objects, with the aesthetic inquiry: what is a book that cannot be read, or a sculpture that can’t fully be seen? Young-Il Ahn’s Self-Reflection I uses script to bridge antiquity and modernity, writing and then erasing traditional Hangul text until the written word communicates purely as an image. Deborah Kass deploys words to communicate brief, authoritative messages, infusing meaning into the cultural conversation, while in Patrick Chamberlain’s text paintings, words become abstract elements in formal space, same as color, shape, texture, and line. For Jeffrey Gibson, words form intertextual reminders, lifelines to memories of music, feelings, and communities bound by history, whereas in Scott Reeder’s paintings and neon sculptures, the written word is exactly what it appears to be: a conveyance of thought, unencumbered by conceptual abstraction. Or is it? Though text is essential for every work in The Written Word, their mutability proves that like the world, the word is not always what it seems.

Inka Essenhigh, Scott Reeder, Roger Brown, Clare Rojas, Gerald Williams, Manuel Mathieu, Jose Lerma, Alfred Conteh, Wadsworth Jarrell

The Figure in Solitude



KAVI GUPTA PRESENTS THE FIGURE IN SOLITUDE, AN ONLINE EXHIBITION EXAMINING ONENESS For years to come, tales of the forced, global solitude of 2020 will be told. Along with sagas of hardship and loneliness, there will be many who also share stories of creativity and strength. Now is the time to ask ourselves: what will we make of our time alone? Will we find ourselves in the kitchen, enchanted by culinary experimentation, like the bewitching figure in Inka Essenhigh's Kitchen 2623 C.E. (2018)? Will we don protective gear and dive into the literary classics, like the figure in Scott Reeder’s Cop Reading (2010)?, or luxuriate in the tranquility of time off, like the figure in Reeder’s Reclining Cop (2011)? Maybe solitude will bring us enlightenment, like the figure in Gerald Williams’ Illumination (1978); give us time to master our craft, like the Senufo woodcarver in Wadsworth Jarrell’s Navaga (1974); bring us the quiet confidence of Roger Brown’s Hank Williams, Honkey Tonk Man (1991); or offer us necessary space to fully observe the realities of our world, like the contemplative figure in Alfred Conteh’s Q (2020). Will solitude release our inner terror, like the figure in Manuel Mathieu’s Steven 3/20 (2015), or our inner warrior, like the soldier in Mary Sibande’s Living Memory (2011)? Or will revelation—the true meaning of apocalypse—overwhelm us, as it does the concerned figures in Conteh’s D-Chris, Clare Rojas’ Untitled (2018), and José Lerma’s Milton Friedman (2016)? Countless masterpieces have been created in solitude—in an art studio, at a writer’s desk, in a rehearsal room. When we know and love ourselves, solitude is precious: time alone to be free. Yet, even at times when we feel like strangers in our skin, what better gift than privacy to reacquaint us with our inner genius? The Figure in Solitude is a prescient reminder that the arts may not exist in isolation, but solitude absolutely, and necessarily, exist within the arts.

Deborah Kass, Jeffrey Gibson, Mary Sibande, Gerald Williams, Tony Tasset, Inka Essenhigh, Michael Joo, Wadsworth Jarrell

Radical Optimism



Kavi Gupta presents Radical Optimism, a special digital exhibition of works by artists rebelling against cynicism to imagine a joyful future for humanity. In the weeks that self-isolation and social distance have become the new normal, we hear the same phrases again and again on the news and in advertisements: “in these uncertain times,” “in these challenging times,” “in these troubling times.” We understand their meaning—that with more than a million worldwide cases, COVID-19 has presented the entire world with a uniquely harrowing ultimatum. Nonetheless, for most people, life can often be uncertain, challenging, and troubling. Before COVID-19, we were bearing witness to so many other catastrophes: the Syrian civil war, the war in Yemen, the collapse of civil society in Venezuela, and climate-related disasters such as floods in the American South and fires from Australia to California. All too often, the human condition is one of unavoidable suffering—so much so that it has become a radical gesture to promote an optimistic worldview, and to try to chart a course towards a better future for us all. Yet, there are some artists who wear the label of radical optimism like a badge of honor. Their art is a living record of their belief in the potential for love to overcome despair. Radical Optimism celebrates works by Inka Essenhigh from Uchronia, her recent series presenting a vision of a future in which humanity has resolved its conflicted relationship with the ecosphere; Jeffrey Gibson from his recent exhibition CAN YOU FEEL IT, inspired by the hopeful, welcoming, inclusive atmosphere of Chicago’s house music scene; AFRICOBRA co-founders Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams, whose historic paintings present definitive, constructive visions of Black pride; Deborah Kass, from her evocatively titled series feel good paintings for feel bad times; Mary Sibande, showing her avatar Sophie entering her purple phase, representing the end of Apartheid and the beginning of a more egalitarian future for South Africa; Michael Joo, whose silver nitrate works “render visible the invisible,” bridging humanity and nature by allowing viewers to literally see themselves within the work; and Tony Tasset, whose instantly recognizable, Pop-like forms evoke the sense of everyday aspirationalism often embedded within the American visual vernacular. Radical Optimism seizes this cultural moment to assert that although humanity has always faced uncertain, challenging, and troubling times, and this current challenge has brought us to our knees, there remain many among us who dare to imagine a better future.

 
Current Exhibitions

Katie Bell, Pamela Council, Alexandre Diop, Gracelee Lawrence, Charles Mason III, Monica Rezman, Jessica Stoller, Chiffon Thomas.

Surface is Only a Material Vehicle for Spirit



September 25, 2021 - December 18, 2021
Kavi Gupta presents Surface is Only a Material Vehicle for Spirit, a group exhibition spotlighting the work of eight dynamic voices within the field of contemporary abstraction, guest curated by artist Kennedy Yanko. Is there a metaphysical side to materiality? Sculptor Kennedy Yanko’s curatorial debut with Kavi Gupta explores the complex perceptual relationships that exist between the surface realities of aesthetic phe-nomena, and the illusions and transcendental insights experienced by artists and viewers of the work. “What is the disconnect between our innate knowing-ness and our optic interpretations of the world around us?” Yanko asks. “I am presented with something seemingly concrete in front of me only to find it is soft and supple. What happens inside me as my brain tries to understand and recalibrate itself? That dissonance is the conduit to a greater understanding—the disrup-tion to our seeming truth that evokes consciousness.” Inspired by the writings of abstract artist Jack Whitten (1939 — 2018), the title of this exhibition spotlights the complications that arise when when we try distinguish-ing what is superficial from the truths that lie beyond first impressions. Whitten considered his paintings to be structured manifestations of his feelings—maps of his soul. While each artist in this exhibition mobilizes a unique visual strategy in their work, each also offers a distinctively personal elucidation of Whitten’s belief that artists are experts at using material realities to convey the unseen depths of spirit. Surface is Only a Material Vehicle for Spirit features a new, site-specific installation by Katie Bell and works by Pamela Council, Alexandre Diop, Gracelee Lawrence, Charles Mason III, Monica Rezman, Jessica Stoller, and Chiffon Thomas.

Dominic Chambers, Allana Clarke, Basil Kincaid, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Michi Meko, Devan Shimoyama, Suchitra Mattai, and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter.

Realms of Refuge



July 10, 2021 - October 30, 2021
Kavi Gupta presents Realms of Refuge, a group show of new works by Dominic Chambers, Allana Clarke, Basil Kincaid, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Michi Meko, Devan Shimoyama, and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter. Culture begins within the inner wilderness of the artist’s thoughts and feelings. Rest and stillness are essential to the creative act. Realms of Refuge can be literal or symbolic zones—anywhere the intellect is nurtured, instinct is unhindered, and the soul is free to wander. Focusing inward in both a physical and symbolic sense, the artists in this exhibition create works that are rooted in introspection and metamorphosis. They speak of the desire to retreat from the oppressive gaze, towards a safe space for creativity and renewal.

 
Past Exhibitions

Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams

Works on Paper



July 10, 2021 - September 11, 2021
Kavi Gupta presents Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams: Works on Paper, the first exhibition to center the quieter, more speculative works on paper that helped define the distinctive visual languages of these two crucial founders of AFRICOBRA. Since their recent inclusion in such internationally acclaimed exhibitions as Soul of a Nation, AFRICOBRA 50, and AFRICOBRA: Nation Time, an official collateral exhibition of the 2019 Venice Biennale, Jarrell and Williams are known mostly for their painterly works on canvas and panel. Featuring a broad selection of drawings, prints, and paintings on paper, some never before exhibited, Works on Paper spotlights a cross-section of formal and technical innovations that the artists worked through over the decades and which came to define their individual positions. This rarely seen side of the two artists offers insights into the roots of their historic paintings, and expands upon the story of their transformation from artistic revolutionaries into contemporary legends.

Mary Sibande

Unhand Me Demon!



May 25, 2021 - August 24, 2021
Unhand Me, Demon! brings together for the first time in the United States 13 years of work by renowned South African artist Mary Sibande. Inaugurating Kavi Gupta’s new street-level space at 835 W. Washington Blvd. in Chicago, the exhibition examines a crucial question of our time: How do we shed negative energies and move forward when we find ourselves at a crossroads in life? The impetus for the name of the show, Sibande says, was the legend of blues singer Robert Johnson, who allegedly mysteriously transformed in a matter of weeks from someone with almost no ability into one of the greatest blues guitarists of all time. People claimed Johnson made a deal with the Devil, selling his soul for talent at the crossroads of Highways 49 and 61 in Mississippi. Modern research reveals the true source of Johnson’s transformation was hard work under the tutelage of blues guitarist Isaiah "Ike" Zimmerman, who gave Johnson lessons in a cemetery late at night, where they would not be bothered. “Crossroads are about cutting away the old life for something new,” says Sibande. “The demon for me, if I were to translate it from my home language, would be bad energies, or a thing that’s holding you, or pulling you back. This show is about letting go, a preparation for going forward. As an individual, one has to shed some things like a snake.” Like the Robert Johnson story, Sibande’s oeuvre is rooted in a space where intelligent effort intersects with, and is sometimes confused with, magical thinking. The work centers a character named Sophie, whom Sibande describes as her alter ego or avatar. Sophie’s mythology is an autobiographical representation of chapters in Sibande’s life, as she witnesses and participates in the evolving social, political, and cultural roles of Black women in the aftermath of Apartheid in South Africa. Placing Sophie within different narratives and contexts, coded through color, Sibande mobilizes photography, sculpture, and installation to explore issues of domestic labor (the Blue Phase), protest and revolution (the Purple Phase), and, in her latest body of work, issues of blood, anger, and empowerment (the Red Phase). They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To (2008) finds Sophie dressed in the traditional blue and white outfit of a South African domestic worker, adorned on the front with the logo of Superman. Admiration of the Purple Figure (2013) and A Terrible Beauty is Born (2013) show Sophie dressed elegantly in a flowing purple dress, surrounded by throngs of embryo-like purple creatures—a reference to the Purple Rain Protests in South Africa, and the subsequent birthing of a new generation of civil rights activists. Right Now! (2015), Ascension of the Purple Figure (2016), and Wielding the Collision of the Past, Present, and Future (2017) bear witness as Sophie moves from protest into empowerment; while The Domba Dance (2019) shows Sophie arriving fully in the Red Phase, unleashing dogs of war. Sophie’s most recent transformation is further expressed in two images titled To everything there is a season (2019) and Turn, turn, turn, turn (2019), which attest to a spiritual cleansing. Together, the works in Unhand Me, Demon! offer a broad overview of the evolution of Sibande’s studio practice up to this point. The show also lays the groundwork for what Sibande says will be the next crossroads, as her avatar Sophie moves into the Green Phase, suggestive of rebirth. “It’s time to hit the restart button,” Sibande says. Accompanying the exhibition, Kavi Gupta is proud to premiere a new short-form documentary filmed on location in Johannesburg, further elucidating Sibande’s studio practice, methods, and concepts. Based in Johannesburg, Sibande has taken part in the 2011 Venice Biennale as the representative of South Africa; Lyon Biennial; Dakar Biennial; and Havana Biennial, among others. She has exhibited internationally in leading museums, including the Met Breuer, New York, USA; British Museum, London, UK; Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa; JAG (Johannesburg Art Gallery), Johannesburg, South Africa; Boston Museum of Fine Art, Boston, USA; Musée d’art Contemporain de Lyon, France; Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa; Museum of Contemporary Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Kiasma Museum for Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland; Museum Beelden aan Zee, Hague, Netherlands; and Somerset House, London, UK, among others. Sibande’s works are included in prominent collections internationally, such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC, USA; Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Richmond, USA; Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach, USA; UMMA (University of Michigan Museum of Art), Ann Arbor, USA; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, USA; Zeitz MOCCA, Cape Town, South Africa; Musée d’Art Contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France; and Iziko South African Museums, Cape Town, South Africa. Forthcoming exhibitions include Mary Sibande: Blue Red Purple at the Frist Art Museum, Nashville, USA, and her work is currently on view at Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA in Bordeaux, France.

Manuel Mathieu

Negroland: A Landscape of Desires



April 24, 2021 - July 3, 2021
Kavi Gupta presents Negroland: A Landscape of Desires, a solo exhibition of new paintings and ceramics by Haitian-born, Montreal-based artist Manuel Mathieu. Mathieu’s practice is guided by intuition and the unknown as much as by intellect and memory. He sees the artist’s studio as crucible—a container in which forces and pressures are exerted to transform materials and ideas. The work is not the end of the process; rather, it creates the circumstances for connections, perspectives, and relationships to come into being. His latest abstract paintings and ceramic sculptures mobilize materiality and form as a means to embrace, and express, the messiness of desire. The works feel both intimate and universal, connecting Mathieu’s personal sensibilities with a sense of history and an awareness of the current global conversation surrounding identity, sexuality, and spirit.

Kour Pour

Familiar Spirits



April 3, 2021 - June 27, 2021
For his inaugural solo exhibition, Familiar Spirits, at Kavi Gupta, Kour Pour has made a body of work instilled with the idea of family—not only that into which we are born, but the families we construct as our personal histories unfold. Pour’s debut at the gallery will present a group of paintings he created around the motif of the tiger. As with past bodies of work, such as his acclaimed carpet paintings, this series contains elements that reference both global art history and various interconnected cultural iconographies.

Michael Joo

Sensory Meridian



January 14, 2021 - April 10, 2021
Kavi Gupta presents Sensory Meridian, a multimedia exhibition of works by Michael Joo. Three new sculptures of disincarnate body parts, alchemized from scans of historical works in the Smithsonian Archives, explore issues of representation, transmission, and transformation. The sculpture From Without features the disembodied face of Anne Sullivan, best known as the teacher and companion of Helen Keller. Present are the features Keller never saw; absent is the mind that enabled both teacher and student to transform. All One Thing features the fist of Abraham Lincoln, copied from a form originally cast on the campaign trail. What's missing is the broom handle Lincoln had to grip in order to make a fist, after reportedly shaking so many hands that he lost muscle control. The third work, All the Other, features a fragment from the sculpted arm of an ancient Greek slave. Scans have revealed that, at some point, this section of the original sculpture was repaired using a cast from an actual human arm—authenticity hidden within artifice. An accompanying collaborative audio-visual installation fills the exhibition space with the whisperings of the voice of a social neuroscientist observing and describing human interactions that we cannot see. Designed to trigger ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), the quadrophonic audio illustrates the power of absent bodies to stimulate and affect bodies that are present, while the video, showing fragments of the neuroscientist's head while she's talking and graphical sound analytics, further explores disconnected presences and mediated realities.

Deborah Kass

Painting and Sculpture



September 10, 2020 - December 26, 2020
Kavi Gupta proudly presents Deborah Kass: Painting and Sculpture, the gallery’s inaugural solo exhibition with the artist. Pairing a stunning new body of work with select historical pieces, the exhibition creates an unflinching examination of the American condition before and during the Trump presidency. The canonized giants of Pop Art and Minimalism defined themselves by their opposition to each other: Pop Art could be anything; Minimalism was everything Pop Art wasn’t. However, as a young artist, Deborah Kass saw things differently. Pop and Minimalism were both equally radical. Her dual admiration, along with her commitment to examining the political climate of today, expresses itself abundantly in this show.

Roger Brown

Hyperframe



March 21, 2020 - June 13, 2020
Kavi Gupta presents Roger Brown: Hyperframe, an exhibition bringing together an unprecedented selection of multi-frame paintings by one of America’s greatest imagists.

Tony Tasset

The Weight



February 28, 2020 - May 30, 2020
For The Weight, Tasset mined the innermost provinces of the contemporary human psyche, responding to the anxiety of our times with wit, gravitas, and salt-of-the-earth sagacity. Working in his western Michigan studio like an aesthetic Dr. Frankenstein assembling an assortment of Post-Modernist monsters—part Woody Guthrie, part Robert Crumb, part Jeff Koons, part Louise Bourgeois—Tasset has concocted a confident, unified sculptural statement he describes as “a reckoning; an apocalyptic mix-tape.”

Kennedy Yanko

HANNAH



September 20, 2019 - December 14, 2019
Kavi Gupta is pleased to present HANNAH, a solo exhibition of new work by Kennedy Yanko (b. 1988, USA). Physicality is essential to Yanko’s sculptural practice. Scouring the urban metal yards and demolition sites of New York City, she seeks out intuitive, physical connections with abandoned materials she can transform in her studio. She has long sought to exert her will on these raw materials, to free them from former actualities, covering their scars and markings to allow new forces to manifest—expressions of atomism and spirit within their present reality. In preparation for HANNAH—her first solo show at Kavi Gupta—Yanko chose to engage in more of an open call and response with the pre-existing narratives of her materials. Says Yanko, “It was a very different experience creating this show. It became about slowing down and taking more time to allow the conceptual aspects to develop as I manipulated and created each work. Initially, while searching for the base materials, I was drawn to metals that had direct characteristics related to their past lives. These markings appeared so perfectly I didn’t feel I had the agency to remove them.” Rather than eliminating evidence of the past—which was about allowing viewers to stay more in the moment with her works—Yanko felt compelled to start incorporating the imposed history of her materials into their present forms. The works in HANNAH express this shift, retaining bits of text and aged, painted surfaces—echoes of their material past. Additionally, Yanko began adding elements such as colored vinyl pieces to her sculptures, in an effort to expand the perspective of the work beyond the sculptures themselves. “I was thinking about tracing the shadows of the work,” she says, “to bring in another element and perspective that provoked the viewer to read the pieces with a different kind of physical involvement. In addition to the metal and the paint skins, I chose blocks of monochromatic color to echo the highlights and lowlights of rust, expanding the work into the space.” The additional contemplative aspects of the work coincide at a juncture of personal transcendence in Yanko’s career—her inaugural solo show at Kavi Gupta gallery aligns with the opening of Before Words, her first solo museum exhibition, opening September 28th at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts (UICA) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the debut of her first public sculpture on September 24th as part of The Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition of New Orleans, sponsored by the Helis Foundation. It was precisely through reflecting on the struggles that have brought her to this moment that Yanko found herself becoming more sympathetic with the markings that signified the past tribulations of her materials—perhaps it’s no coincidence the word scrap can also mean fight. “I dropped out of school,” says Yanko, “I had every single job in New York City. All of that was about making time to make work. During that process, I didn’t look up very much. I needed to discover my own way.” The title HANNAH grew out of this self analysis. “Because of their (my materials’) adamant presentation of personal history, I couldn’t help but reflect on my own,” Yanko says. “I was thinking about the things I was given. You’re given situations, and it’s really up to you what you do with what you have. My birth name was Hannah Elizabeth Kennedy Yanko. I was given a name, I took what worked and left what didn’t. That was the genesis of my understanding, on a deeply tangible level, that my entire existence boils down to choice, down to perception, and my ability to hone in on that understanding became the foundation in which I began to move through this world.” Yanko’s work has always been about disrupting pre-existing associations. HANNAH announces the arrival of an artist who has welcomed a new paradigm of thinking, in which we consider not only what we are now, but how things have come to us in this moment. And like the paint skins that she adds to her metal pieces, it’s also about how we relate to our surroundings. “The framework supports the skin,” Yanko says, “and the metal becomes the composition that the skin responds to. There’s this play on how they interact and respond to each other. I’m fascinated with paradox, and seeming opposites, when actually they are so dependent on each other. I’m interested in the moment when they come together in that interdependence. One thing can’t exist without the opposing force.”

Jeffrey Gibson

CAN YOU FEEL IT



September 20, 2019 - December 14, 2019
Gibson’s jubilant and ever-evolving practice blends the aesthetic heritages of Native America, rave culture, and punk rock, breathing new life into the traditions of Modernist Abstraction. In his paintings, sculptures, garments, performances and films, indigenous craftwork and ancient abstract references coalesce to form metaphysical bridges between 20th century art movements like Geometric Abstraction, Neo-Dada and Pop Art, and contemporary fields of inquiry such as Relational Aesthetics, Institutional Critique and Identity Politics. For CAN YOU FEEL IT, his first solo exhibition at Kavi Gupta, Gibson presents 14 new paintings and sculptures—including the debut of a never-before-shown body of quilted works. Inspired by four years in the mid-1990s when Gibson called Chicago home, the exhibition’s title echoes the classic house jam of the same name by Chicago-born DJ Larry Fine, a.k.a. Mr. Fingers. Says Gibson, “This was a period when house music was so welcoming and inclusive, and being in Chicago was very optimistic. There was a space carved out for people of different backgrounds coming together and celebrating each other, letting everything go and having a good time. It felt hopeful. That was a big critical experience for me in terms of thinking about how to respond to a challenging larger culture.” Included in CAN YOU FEEL IT are three new works from Gibson’s ongoing Punching Bag series (2013–present). Appropriating iconic Everlast punching bags as sculptural supports, Gibson mobilizes bead work, weaving, tassels, and other material interventions to transform objectified targets for abuse into conceptual symbols of strength and beauty. Above all, Gibson’s Punching Bags sparkle with life. As with many of Gibson’s works, they come embedded with references to music, philosophy and pop culture. Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered (2019) takes its title from an American Standard first sung by Vivienne Segal in the 1940 Broadway premiere of Pal Joey (since covered by Ella Fitzgerald, Linda Ronstadt, and Doris Day, among others). All I ever wanted, all I ever needed (2019) reflects the chorus of Enjoy the Silence, the 1990 smash single by British synth-pop band Depeche Mode. Trapped in the dream of the other (2019) quotes French Post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925 – 1995), who remarked, “If you’re trapped in the dream of the Other, you’re fucked.” The eight new paintings in CAN YOU FEEL IT similarly bear such culturally percipient titles as, “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before” (from Temptation, by New Order), “To say I love you right out loud” (from Both Sides Now, by Joni Mitchell), and “Before the devil knows you’re dead” (attributed to an Irish saying). In these multi-faceted works, text hovers in a state of tension amid brightly colored, dense optic patterning, drawing dynamic distinctions between figure and ground. Finally, Gibson presents the first three of what will eventually be 12 unique quilted pieces—a series that emerged from the performative garments Gibson is currently exhibiting in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.

Manish Nai

A History of Gestures



September 14, 2019 - December 14, 2019
Kavi Gupta is pleased to present Manish Nai’s second solo exhibition with the gallery, A History of Gestures. Nai’s iconic vision for socially-conscious minimalism has earned him global attention as a crucial voice for Indian art today. Paying mind towards the complex intersections of material culture, art history, class relations, and autobiography, Nai’s geometrically simple forms distill the essence of contemporary Mumbai. Known best for employing indigo-dyed jute, used clothes, and the diverse newspapers of India as the raw material for his practice, Nai’s newest bodies of work expand to include whole used books and mosquito nets. These new bodies of work expand upon Nai’s ongoing meditation on time itself. Time has always been a chief concern in Nai’s practice, compressed layers of paper, jute, and clothing slowly setting into distinct strata like sedimentary rock. The innumerable pages and subtle tonal shifts of his new book pillar sculptures recall that tradition in his work, but their sequencing as distinct layers bring a new kind of clarity to the substance. While the forms are cleaner and more minimal than ever before, the contents remain elusive, refusing access to their text. Their history as books immediately accessible, but their content as text is arrested in time, frozen inside the sculpture. The small compressed books are slightly more generous with access to content, their covers serving as pedestals for their former contents, now twisted into gnarled knots. Text from the books gives brief flickers of legibility, but the organic forms twist and turn away from inquisitive eyes. The mosquito net paintings similarly crystallize time, laying out a history of gestures. Nai stains them with watercolor or thinned acrylic, much of which passes through the thin, perforated surface with ease. While much of the paint may pass through one layer onto another, the remaining stain has a permanence and honesty that almost relates to photography. The surface becomes a frozen moment in time, a perfect portrait of every choice made in making, with no room to hide, no opacity for coverup, no chance for erasure. In the side room, a pyramid comprised of used clothes, compressed into pillars, revisits one of Nai’s signature materials. Nai’s practice at large always circles back to the landscape of contemporary urban India, each material choice (including the books and mosquito nets) a reality of the everyday in Mumbai. The most densely populated megacity in the world, Mumbai is highly cosmopolitan, while still maintaining a distinct Indian character. This mass density of people, history, and material in a common geographic context informs Nai’s use of used clothing, the formation of the clothing into pillars, and the near-architectural logic of their arrangement. These kinds of choices extend to all of the sculptural work in the show, each piece a dense coalescence of material, each material being substantial to contemporary India, and each form based in a logical geometry that is equally related to minimalist sculpture and urban architecture. They are brought to life by Nai’s hand and the organic potential in their manipulation, unexpected possibilities blooming forth from their seemingly mundane substances.