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835 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60607
3124320708

Also at:
219 North Elizabeth Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Kavi Gupta is a leading contemporary art gallery based in Chicago. Its two permanent gallery locations host more than a dozen museum-quality exhibitions each year, and its publishing imprint, Kavi Gupta Editions, produces quality artist books and catalogues. 

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
Irena Haiduk
Richard Hunt
Jae Jarrell
Wadsworth Jarrell
Michael Joo
Glenn Kaino
Deborah Kass
José Lerma
Manuel Mathieu
Manish Nai
Angel Otero
Roxy Paine
Scott Reeder
Clare Rojas
Claire Sherman
Devan Shimoyama
Mary Sibande
Jessica Stockholder
Tony Tasset
Mickalene Thomas
Gerald Williams
Works Available By:
McArthur Binion
Ed Clark
John Isaacs
Chris Johanson
Aaditi Joshi
Glenn Ligon
Brett Lund
Kerry James Marshall
Ed Paschke
Andy Warhol
Jack Whitten

 

 
Kavi Gupta


 
Current Exhibitions

Kennedy Yanko

HANNAH

219 North Elizabeth Street
Chicago, IL 60607

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

219 North Elizabeth Street
Chicago, IL 60607

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

835 West Washington Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60607

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.