I Thought Freedom Would Set Me Free (And You Gave Me A Song), 2020
Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me (Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive), 2021
Currently at Lehmann Maupin’s New York location is Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me: Failure Is A Part Of Being Alive, the gallery’s first exhibition with New York-based painter Arcmanoro Niles. The painting’s colors are intense and bright and often utilize gold tones and glitter, contrasting with what they depict.
From the press release–
Featuring a series of new portraits, still lives, and a single landscape, this exhibition continues the artist’s critical investigation into the function and form of historically revered genres in painting. Niles is best known for his vivid, brightly-hued canvases that illustrate the seemingly mundane aspects of daily life―a man about to get into his car, a father and daughter sitting on their stoop with their dog, a woman waiting at a bus stop. His subjects are drawn from photographs of friends and relatives and from memories of his past, offering a highly personal record of contemporary life. The paintings, though autobiographical, engage with universal subjects of desire, hope, fear, and failure, while also recalling numerous art historical predecessors, including Italian and Dutch baroque, history painting, Color Field painting, and ancient Egyptian sculpture. For Hey Tomorrow, Niles has created a number of his distinct portraits, but the exhibition also features still lives and interiors that become surrogates for the figure―a cluttered bedside table, a urine test in a doctor’s office bathroom, or a kitchen table littered with liquor bottles and food containers….
…The titular work in the exhibition is the only landscape featured and the first Niles has created in his professional career. The painting, Hey Tomorrow, Do You Have Some Room For Me (Failure is a Part of Being Alive), depicts an idyllic view from the edge of a body of water. The surface is blue and calm, a tree occupies the left side of the composition, and the foreground is marked by a row of rocks. The clouds are a vibrant pink that stand in stark contrast to the pale blue sky. The serene scene is the outlier in the exhibition and offers the viewer “room” for contemplation, self-reflection, a moment of pause in the otherwise dense body of work. In depicting not only people close to him but the places and times they inhabit, Niles creates his own chronicle of life today. Each painting invites us to consider the time in which it was made, as well as our own histories―our struggles, successes, and desires for the future. While most of the paintings represent the past and the present, for Niles, the painting Hey Tomorrow offers space to imagine tomorrow, and what might come next.
This exhibition closes 8/27/21.