All Good Fires
The low, sliding drone of fingers against the taut skin of a drum slowly gives way to rhythm, then polyrhythmic escalation. Before long, dancers wearing bright and quilted robes are gyrating, vogue-ing, and swimming in preternaturally beautiful woods to a backdrop of quick drumming, enacted by a rotating cast of performers. That video work, To Feel Myself Beloved on Earth (2020), joins two new series of paintings, a punching bag, and doll sculptures to form “All Good Fires,” Gibson’s second solo show with Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
The works on view expand both Native American visual languages and Modernist abstraction to advance alternate ways of communicating and working through systems of meaning, moving swiftly from order to disorder, and disturbing the notion of chaos as inherently negative. Reading the emblazoned text in colorful beaded, quilted, painted, and fringed works can induce a sense of spinning—and not only when one encircles one of Gibson’s signature beaded punching bags. In order to “read” these phrases, lifted from pop songs of the 1980s and ’90s, one’s eyes might dart from left to right, then right to left, then up to down, before making their way to the acrylic-painted center, with its neon palette, burst grid, and abstracted alphabet. Love, joy, movement, and vulnerability intermingle throughout these pieces: “THROUGH THE FIRE,” reads the beadwork around the edge of one work. It continues in the center of the canvas, reading “ALL GOOD FIRES.”
Jeffrey Gibson, WHEN I AM ALONE WITH YOU I FEEL FREE AGAIN, 2020. Trading post rug, acrylic felt, canvas, glass beads, nylon thread, brass and steel studs, 51 x 55 x 3 inches.