In Praise of Shadows

Lyles & King
21 Catherine Street
New York
Lower East Side
Jun 5th 2021 — Jul 2nd 2021

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In the curatorial statement for “In Praise of Shadows”—a group show up now at Lyles & King—Ebony Haynes writes that “shadows cast light on things almost forgotten.” To be sure, the paintings and prints on view —which represent work by almost 20 artists coming out of Yale’s 2021 MFA program— make visible those very things that could well slip away. Danielle De Jesus’s Carmelo’s Garden (2021) is a sun-dappled painting of a kindly man bearing palms full of peppers—the scene apparently evoking a sweet memory. Curtis Welteroth’s sculpture In Memoriam (2021) is an altogether more ambiguous memorial, a tableau morte of a cockroach that met an unfortunate end.

Speaking of shadows: Nearly all of the selected pieces incorporate a 3-D element. See, for instance, Welteroth’s Forest with Asshole (2021), a bucolic forest scene out of which emerges a puckered clay anus, glazed to a shine—or Emma Safir’s “Stretch” series, which include ruched, appliqued, smocked, and threaded elements of silk, neoprene, and upholstery foam. In Jonathan Rajewski’s Untitled (2020-2021), the space of the gallery itself is reconfigured into the experience of the work. A set of crumpled balls, constructed with a range of found materials, is arranged on the space's floor into a square formation, echoing the footprint of the window beneath which it is directly situated. From that window, one can catch a view of the second part of the same work, organized neatly outside within the tiled grid of the floor.

Chibụike Ụzọma, GRACE (2021). Oil on canvas in artist frame. Courtesy of the artist and Lyles & King, New York. Photo: Charles Benton