Whitfield Lovell: First Impressions

Exhibition Dates: August 1 – September 19, 2015
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 1 from 6–9 pm, in conjunction with White Linen Night
Gallery Location: 432 Julia Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Contact Info: 504.522.1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com

The Arthur Roger Gallery is pleased to present First Impressions, an exhibition of work by Whitfield Lovell. The exhibition will be on view at Arthur Roger Gallery, located at 432 Julia Street, from August 1 – September 19, 2015. The gallery will host an opening reception, Saturday, August 1 from 6-9 pm in conjunction with White Linen Night.

America, 2000, Charcoal on wood, flags,  89 x 53 1/2 x 20 inches

America, 2000, Charcoal on wood, flags,
89 x 53 1/2 x 20 inches

Whitfield Lovell: First Impressions is the artist’s third exhibition with the gallery. Included are the celebrated, bold assemblages of charcoal drawings on vintage wood paired with multivalent objects collectively illuminating the African American experience. Also exhibited, for the first time, are the artist’s lithograph prints – exquisitely detailed visages on wood veneer, vellum and vintage wallpaper flecked with floral and decorative patterns.

Lovell’s work is inspired by his fascination with history as well as stories told by his grandparents. His portraits are referenced from his large archive of photos of unidentified African Americans from the early twentieth century – including passport pictures and mug shots. He states, “The importance of home, family, ancestry feeds my work entirely. African Americans generally were not aware of who their ancestors were, since slaves were sold from plantation to plantation and families were split up.” The men and women featured in Lovell’s work, although with faces often weighted with strife, reveal consummate strength and determination.

The large-scale wood assemblage You’re My Thrill features a charcoal rendering of a seated black soldier, posing with a gun. Surrounding him in a semi-circle are spent bombshell casings of various heights and origins. This work represents a theme of increasing importance to Lovell, who wonders why someone would have enlisted to serve a country that did not afford him basic human rights. This theme is visited again in America, which features a life-sized portrait of a man in a suit, standing straight with arms tight at his side. From his torso protrudes a large American flag of the era, flanked by smaller ones. The larger flag piles contentiously on the floor. Also of note is Deuce, a lithograph featuring a three-quarter profile of a man paired with his upside-down half profile, which was made at the Smith College of Art print workshop.

Whitfield Lovell was born in 1959 in New York City. He received a BFA from Cooper Union in 1981. His work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the National Museum of American Art and the Seattle Art Museum. He is a 2007 recipient of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Fellowship Award.