Social Abstraction – Frieze Los Angeles – Gagosian

Lauren Halsey, Untitled, 2023 (detail) © Lauren Halsey
Art Martin Cid Magazine
Art Martin Cid Magazine

LOS ANGELES, February 13, 2024—Gagosian is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze Los Angeles 2024 with Social Abstraction, a diverse selection of paintings and sculptures rooted in the exploration of historic qualities of abstraction and contemporary social realities. The first in a sequence of three presentations organized by Antwaun Sargent, Social Abstraction at Frieze Los Angeles will be followed by exhibitions in Beverly Hills this summer and in Hong Kong this fall.

The intergenerational group of Black artists in Social Abstraction operates beyond purely formal concerns to create artworks that move between and beyond figuration and abstraction. They push shape to become landscape, color to reveal people, and texture to map the totality of experience.

Combining painting and collage, Rick Lowe uses abstraction as a means to explore social systems and communal relationships, an aspect of his practice that catalyzes civic change. The complex network of nodes and paths in 22 Rhymes in a Row: Homage to John Outterbridge (2023) recalls both maps of urban areas and the game of dominoes in a tribute to the pioneering Los Angeles–based artist and community activist. The brushstrokes of Ithaka #4 (2023) suggest lines of text without resolving into legible letters or words, partially obscuring a collage of photographs picturing the Ionian landscape.

Working with industrial roofing materials and the alchemical power of flame, Theaster Gates creates abstract works inspired in part by his father’s career as a professional roofer that allude to skilled labor and craft practices. Gates’s interest in material transformation as a spiritual act extends to the swelling forms of Vessel (2023), a ceramic work fired in the high temperatures of a traditional Japanese anagama kiln. Lauren Halsey’s sculpture watts happening (2024) comprises tiered blocks with text derived from historic signs that emerged from the Black Arts movement and community initiatives of 1960s Watts, and the repeated neologism “FreedomEx” in a design that appropriates the form of a corporate logo to demand liberation. The palette of red, black, and green reflects the colors of Pan-African unity in this work, while a color-blocked spectrum of synthetic hair cascades down the surface of a wall-mounted work from 2023, embodying the power and exuberance of self-adornment.

Lady with Pin and Man with Braids (both 2024) by Derrick Adams evoke Synthetic Cubism, drawing on both abstraction and figuration to paint two portraits in profile. By composing with faceted planes to convey facial features in varied skin tones, Adams suggests the multiplicities of individual and collective identity while subtly alluding to the formal considerations of landscape painting. Painted with energetic brushstrokes in an intensely contrasting palette, Cy Gavin’s Untitled (Pollarded mulberry tree) (2023) depicts a street tree with branches cut to constrain its growth. His Untitled (Converging paths) (2023) uses gestural marks to define an allover composition of a crossroads, where the trace of human passage intersects with abundant plant life.

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