Jacolby Satterwhite, whose Reifying Desire 6 won rave reviews at this year’s Whitney Biennial, currently has his first Los Angeles show on view at OHWOW Gallery, featuring new two-dimensional works, sculptures, and videos. Satterwhite’s prints and films look like not-quite-old-school video games, with fantastical architectural islands floating in starry seas. Ground planes shift as if manipulated by a viewer’s joystick.
The works are otherworldly and at times aspirational, owing in part to the exhibition title rendered on a gallery wall in purple neon. In several Satterwhite wears a bodysuit in which he often performs, with a glowing smartphone screen placed over his crotch strapped in a full-body cone-breasted harness, and flanked by naked men. In a single-channel film, the artist appears in the same bodysuit engaged in yogic sexual positions, as bodies multiply like fruit in a vast Bodhi tree that stretches its branches to the heavens while babies crawl over its twisted roots.
From the exhibition statement:
Often using his mother’s drawings as a resource (she created thousands of schematics and inventions centered on consumer culture, medicine, sex, astrology, and philosophy), Satterwhite propagates her two-dimensional gestures and contextualizes the related themes. For this exhibition, the artist was inspired by a specific sketch, a sort of self-portrait he discovered among her collection of works, in which she drew seven vessels or architectural structures beneath the handwritten phrase “How lovly is me being as I am.” Satterwhite expanded from this personal reflection, developing a macrocosmos, in response.
While his latest work connects to reality, the visual dialogue also reads something like an extraterrestrial journal, a poetic scape where there is no sense of physical place and no parameters of time. His methods are radical, and the imagery surreal, yet he maintains a visual course of formalist aesthetics and composition. Through performance, video, 3D animation, installation, and sculpture, Satterwhite explores themes of memory, desire, and ritual. He is interested in process as a metanarrative: the narrative between past, present, and future, and how that process relates a broad, shared experience.
Satterwhite’s exhibition serves as a re-exploration of histories, a compound of various art practices, and a queer rendition of phenomenology. He examines and reifies the tension created between intent and interpretation. If minimalist works move to negate their author, the maximum use of visual language in How Lovely Is Me Being As I Am reaches to the other end of the spectrum, beyond the author, presenting a universal expression.
How Lovely Is Being Me As I Am will be on view until December 20.