Gary Simmons (Art MFA 90) addresses pervasive racist imagery embedded in American history and popular culture in Remembering Tomorrow, his first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles, running from Feb. 17 to May 22.
This latest show features new works by Simmons including paintings, wall drawings, and sculpture sprawling across the North Galleries and the outdoor courtyard. Additionally, his installation Recapturing Memories of the Black Art will be presented for the first time in LA. More about the exhibition from Hauser & Wirth:
‘Remembering Tomorrow’ foregrounds Simmons’ distinctive contributions to contemporary image making, particularly through his use of erasure as a form of Action Painting freighted with deep cultural significance. Simmons wipes the surface of his work while the paint is still wet in order to smear the image so that it simultaneously emerges and disappears. This tactic is central to the new paintings on view, in which Simmons presents the viewer with racialized imagery once prevalent in American popular culture.
Among the once-commonplace images in Simmons’ new works are the 1930s cartoon characters Honey and Bosko, whose designs and personalities hearkened to the minstrelsy and vaudeville acts of the era. In canvas works like Honey Typer (2021) and Joy Ride (2021), the artist depicts the pair engaging in “carefree activities like typing on an antiquated typewriter or innocently kissing on a date.” These pieces highlight the dissonance between the seemingly innocuous imagery and the implicit violence of stereotyped and racialized caricatures.
Simmons’ sculptural installation Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark will be on view in the gallery’s courtyard. An ongoing project since 2014, the work is crafted from “materials sourced from the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,” per Hauser & Wirth’s press release. On Saturday, Feb. 19, the sculpture will serve as the site for an opening celebration and a vinyl set by DJ Jihaari paying homage to legendary Jamaican record producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry who passed away in 2021.
Simmons is a multidisciplinary artist whose more than three decade-long practice draws from personal and collective memory, and is informed by performance and musical genres like dub, punk, hip-hop, reggae, and rap. In 2015, Simmons was among the CalArtians whose works were exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale. His first Los Angeles exhibition Fade to Black took place three years later at the California African American Museum (CAAM).
Hauser & Wirth is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm. No prior reservations are necessary.
As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.