A renowned Abstract Expressionist who famously removed his paintings from their stretchers to present them in three-dimensions, Sam Gilliam transcended the boundaries of the canvas through experimentation with color, texture, and display. As Gilliam’s inaugural solo show at Pace Gallery, "Existed Existing" delves into recent developments in the 86-year-old artist's practice.
Encompassing both painting and sculpture, Gilliam's latest body of work charts new ground with colorful geometric structures and brilliant, monochromatic compositions rendered on washi paper. Simultaneously, a series of large-scale paintings created through splatter and marking signal that he hasn't wholly abandoned AbEx, his formative style.
These pieces also incorporate studio detritus, like sawdust, resulting in a visibly layered texture that is furthered by way of the paintings' signature beveled edges—Gilliam's singularly executed investigation into depth. Each work's title—such as Heroines, Beyoncé, Serena and Althea (2020) [pictured]—is intended as an homage to influential Black figures.
Sam Gilliam, Heroines, Beyoncé, Serena and Althea, 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 72 × 96 inches. © 2020 Sam Gilliam / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.