Almost Here, Almost There, Almost Home
Curated by Jérôme Sans
November 11, 2023 – January 20, 2024
Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Chicago
Mariane Ibrahim is pleased to announce a group exhibition curated by Jérôme Sans, "Almost here, Almost there, Almost home" presenting work by Joël Andrianomearisoa, Alexandre Gourçon, Mwangi Hutter, and Tony Lewis, whose vocabularies converge on a minimalist aesthetic to explore complex emotions.
With an economy of means and color, the artists reflect upon the nature of dualities and emotion as they search for alignment amongst opposition. As the ever-evolving conversations on identity politics lead us to question the truth, use and confines of labels, these works call into question the relevance of categorizing, alluding to humanity’s innate tendency to divide and classify in order to make sense of the world.
From realism to abstraction, the artists explore the poetry of duality, whether it be through entangling bodies that search for unison within contradictions, the layering of material, or the meticulous two-fold treatment of textiles. Rubbing graphite, obsessively folding and refolding, dripping or smudging paint: each artist holds an intimate, almost ritualistic process with their material, that echoes a quest to blur certainties and distort clear distinctions. Exploring the complexity of the world through modest means, the works find poetry within abstraction and absence. In the cracks of the folds, in the empty spaces of the page, lie an ode to simplicity, to ambiguous layers of meaning and interpretations. Exceptionally brought together for the first time in this show, whose title is drawn from one of Joël Andrianomearisoa’s works, these four artists praise moments of silent intimacy and finding meaning, and emotion, in what lies within the interstices.
Best known for his monumental installations and his investigation of the materiality of sentiments, Joël Andrianomearisoa (b. 1977, Madagascar) reintroduces poetic space, and emotions into an aesthetic that had hitherto abdicated the individual, gesture, and voice in favor of a smooth, minimal rendering. Putting two opposing traditions back-to-back, he deftly blends the sentimentality of the digital age with the great, cold, frozen-in-time aesthetic of minimalism, asserting the need to reinject poetic language into contemporary artistic practices.
Like a landscape, a musical score, or a notebook on which writing drips and overturns meaning, his three textile works Geometry and tales of our desiresplay with an ambiguity between rigidity and liquidity, presence and absence. A series of 10 of his eponymous drawings accompany these works, like sketches, echoes of the roughly drawn, almost dancing, black lines. Terrain de tous les possible showcases his emblematic black vocabulary, while demonstrating another use of textile which focuses on cuts, folds and the suggestiveness of materiality to convey sentimental meanings. Comprised of 200 Beldi glasses and 30 ceramic plates which each hold a unique drawing by the artist, Almost Here, Almost There, Almost Home is produced in Morocco, underlining local production that blends art and craft. Combining textile, paper, glass and ceramics, all characteristic elements of the artist’s language, the works reveal a world of vibrations and ambiguities, both sensitive and poetic.
Alexandre Gourçon (b. 1993, Paris) manipulates canvas and textile to create entirely new scenarios with folds, textures, and shadows. In the manner of the costume designer Madame Grès, his work is based on the act of folding, refolding, draping, stretching and sewing, as he merges meticulous, artisanal work with a minimalist aesthetic. Using pale often monochrome colors, he explores the potential of materiality to translate and extract fragments of emotion.
For this exhibition, the artist presents two canvases La Voix Silencieuse and La Danse Immobile, neatly split in two parts, making textures and volumes. These works play with dualisms, inciting to reflect upon the binaries that make up life: fullness and void, light and obscurity, happiness and pain. These opposites and contradictions lie at the heart of his extremely intimate, sensitive works, while he provides no answers but suggests meaning through folds that vibrate like sensual, visceral entities. In the manner of a skin, his fragile canvases are like visual poetry in which each wrinkle, each fold silently counts intimate stories.
Mwangi Hutter (Ingrid Mwangi, b. 1975, Kenya; Robert Hutter, b. 1964, Germany) fused their names in 2005 to become one single artistic identity, incorporating their respective gender and racial differences. Through a variety of media, Mwangi Hutter challenges traditional notions of identity, revisiting and calling into question collective biases. Often using and documenting their own bodies as theatres of intimacy, pain, and personal introspection intended for collective exorcism, they seek to translate changing societal realities, reflecting upon the construction of identities today and notions of belonging.
Works on paper from Mwangi Hutter’s Union series epitomize their use of the body to investigate the intricacies of intimacy and love. Entangling, opposing silhouettes appear in a quest to merge, to become one while roughly defined, blurry outlines and dripping watercolors seem to blend into the page. Playing with a dualistic black and white vocabulary, these works are poetic explorations of balances, equilibriums in love, of the complex negotiation of differences in romantic relationships, and of a search for fusion within intimate embraces.
Exploring social topics such as race, power, communication, and labor, Tony Lewis (b. 1986, Los Angeles) integrates poetry and text within a vocabulary of abstraction. By erasing, editing, and assembling words extracted from their source, from literary or popular references such as comic books, he plays with language as a material. Often using black and white, he turns to the medium of graphite for its potential to be stretched, smudged, rubbed and folded across a variety of handmade and found surfaces. From the personal to the political, playing with layers of material and of meaning, he explores what remains unsaid and concealed, to create new, unexpected abstract narratives.
For this show, Tony Lewis presents a site-specific installation comprised of floor drawings that stands as a sculpture in the room. Like a cloaked body, his enigmatic work hints at what remains hidden, playing with folds and the intricate handling of paper and graphite to produce ambiguous meanings. Situated at the border between drawing, sculpture and installation, this work appears like a living, organic entity that plays with oppositions, oscillating between rigidity and softness, strength and fragility, presence and absence.