On the 27th of November, 2020, more than 300 artists, intellectuals, and Cuban citizens presented themselves at the Ministry of Culture to demand the government follow through on their supposed commitment to freedom and civil rights. This protest came as a result of police violence exerted the previous day against members of the San Isidro Movement—an activist group who over the course of the past few years has been vocal in demanding greater freedom of expression in Cuba. Using social media as a tool to bring awareness to their cause, they have sparked renewed attention and urgency in calling for an end to government censorship and repression against all artists, intellectuals, and activists in Cuba. This community adopted the name 27N and together have staged peaceful protests asking for freedom of artistic expression in the face of government repression.*
This week, MOCA Los Angeles will host a virtual panel with artist and activist Tania Bruguera and other members of the 27N. See link below to register.
The rise of the feminist movement and the globalism that exposed United States audiences to other cultures were two energizing forces for artist Constance Mallinson, coinciding with the artist’s late-1970s move to Los Angeles. Mallinson worked downtown, creating paintings and drawings that channeled the form and logic of weaving. She focused her attention on employing pattern as a bridge between minimalist aesthetics and a more personal and feminine approach as part of the Pattern and Decoration art movement.
Noah Davis (1983–2015) was a figurative painter and cofounder of theUnderground Museum (UM) in Los Angeles. Despite his untimely death at the age of thirty-two, Davis’ paintings are a crucial part of the rise of figurative and representational painting in the first two decades of the twenty-first century.
Loneliness and tenderness suffuse his rigorously composed paintings, as do traces of his abiding interest in artists such as Marlene Dumas, Kerry James Marshall, Fairfield Porter, [MarkRothko], and Luc Tuymans.Davis’ pictures can be slightly deceptive; they are modest in scale yet emotionally ambitious. Using a notably dry paint application and a moody palette of blues, purples, and greens, his work falls into two loose categories: There are scenes from everyday life, such as a portrait of his young son, a soldier returning from war, or a housing project designed by famed modernist architect Paul Williams. And there are paintings that traffic in magical realism, surreal images that depict the world both seen and unseen, where the presence of ancestors, ghosts, and fantasy are everywhere apparent.
Generous, curious, and energetic, Davis founded—along with his wife, the sculptor Karon Davis—the Underground Museum, an artist- and family-run space for art and culture in Los Angeles. The UM began modestly—Noah and Karon worked to join three storefronts in the city’s Arlington Heights neighborhood. Davis’ dream was to exhibit “museum-quality” art in a working-class black and Latino neighborhood. In the early days of the UM, Davis was unable to secure museum loans, so he organized exhibitions of his work alongside that of his friends and family, and word of mouth spread about Davis’ unique curatorial gestures.
In 2014 Davis began organizing exhibitions using works selected from the MOCA Los Angeles’ collection as his starting point. In the aftermath of Davis’ passing, the team of family and friends he gathered continued his work at the UM, transforming it into one of the liveliest and most important gathering places in Los Angeles for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, and activists. — Helen Molesworth
The exhibition NOAH DAVIS—curated by Molesworth—is now on view at David Zwirner in New York. An iteration of the show will open at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles in March 2020.
A new Davis monograph—featuring an introduction by Molesworth and oral history interviews that she conducted with Davis’ friends, family, and colleagues—is forthcoming.
From top: Brigitte Bardot and Michel Piccoli in Contempt (1963); Piccoli(left), Fritz Lang, Jack Palance, and Jean-Luc Godard, on the set of Contempt; Anna Karina in Alphaville (1965). Image credit: Rialto Pictures.
Chris Emile—dancer, choreographer, and cofounder of No)one Art House—presents a choreographed performance in response to Haegue Yang’s Strange Fruit (2012-13).
Using Yang’s installation as its stage, the performance by Emile and three other dancers examines the “public display and consumption of violence against marginalized bodies and investigates how African-Americans process trauma.”*
FIXED, Sunday, September 2, at 3pm
MOCA GRAND AVENUE, 250 South Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.