For over 30 years, Gary Simmons’ multidisciplinary practice has probed American history to address issues of personal and collective memory, race, identity, politics, and social inequality. His first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth will present new paintings, wall drawings, and sculpture, as well as the installation ‘Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark,’ originally created for Prospect New Orleans in 2014 and presented here for the first time in Los Angeles.
‘Remembering Tomorrow’ foregrounds Simmons’ distinctive contributions to contemporary image making, specifically his use of erasure, a form of Action Painting here freighted with deeper cultural significance. Simmons wipes the surface of his work while the paint is still wet in order to smear the image so that it is simultaneously emerging and disappearing. 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, including such archetypical cartoon characters as Honey and Bosko. Intentionally erased from public view in recent years, these characters – and the impulses and prejudices revealed by their enormous popularity – nevertheless remain alive in the soul of America. The exhibition also includes new monumental wall drawings and an installation using public-school cafeteria tables, in which Simmons revisits schoolroom motifs found in his early sculptural works.
On view in the gallery’s outdoor courtyard, Simmons’ ‘Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark’ is a work comprised of amalgamated materials sourced from the TremÚ neighborhood of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Inspired by the studio of legendary Jamaican record producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, this installation will become the site of numerous activations and performances throughout the duration of the exhibition.
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