Esteban Jefferson
May 25th, 2020

★★★☆☆

On until 14 January 2024

Despite the artist’s and the gallery’s best efforts, Jefferson’s paintings betray the show’s stated purpose. Already from the title (the day of George Floyd’s killing), this project wishes to reactivate the anticolonial and antiracist critique of memorials in the public realm that dominated 2020’s summer of violence and iconoclasm.

Masterful but ghostly pencil panels of public statues and edifices in New York to which the artist added evolving oil overlays of graffiti form the bulk of the show. One series tracks the removal in 2021 of Theodore Roosevelt’s horseback statue from the American Museum of Natural History. Another looks at the boarded-up façade of a Dior store and the shuttered front of a Brooklyn deli.

But because many of the subjects are also the objects of art history – in one picture, David Hammonds’ 1990 African-American Flag – Jefferson must treat them as such and they run away from him. The graffiti marks are too exuberant and luminous, and their presence confusing. But that’s only for the better because these interventions breathe a life of their own into the artefacts Jefferson would have us condemn. This exhibition is thus a warning to would-be propagandists: trust art at your peril.


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Choon Mi Kim, ACID—FREEEE at Ginny on Frederick ★☆☆☆☆

Choon Mi Kim

ACID—FREEEE

★☆☆☆☆

Some forms of abstraction simply scream ‘my kid could have made that’.

Dryland, the Greek pavilion in Venice ★★★★☆

Thanasis Deligiannis, Yannis Michalopoulos

Xirómero/Dryland

★★★★☆

It’s Sunday in the village. And the main square is deserted.

Hannah Tilson, Soft Cut at Cedric Bardawil ★★☆☆☆

Hannah Tilson

Soft Cut

★★☆☆☆

Tilson’s styled self-portraits are an affectation that will take many years of practice to pay off.

A Comparative Dialogue Act, Luxemburg pavilion in Venice ★★☆☆☆

Andrea Mancini, Every Island

A Comparative Dialogue Act

★★☆☆☆

Stage fright is real. Cowardice is another thing altogether.

Ghada Amer, QR CODES REVISITED—LONDON at Goodman ★★☆☆☆

Ghada Amer

QR CODES REVISITED—LONDON

★★☆☆☆

This invites a game of proofreading, in hope that Amer maliciously inserted a greengrocer’s apostrophe into de Beauvoir’s mind.

Anna Glantz, Lichens at Approach ★★★☆☆

Anna Glantz

Lichens

★★★☆☆

The clues that Glantz leaves on her surfaces are also traps. There are either too many or not quite enough to follow or fall into. 

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