Fresh off a stunning, inaugural exhibition—Ming Smith: Evidence—Nicola Vassell Gallery is back at it again with another impressive show. For their sophomore exhibition, Nicola Vassell Gallery presents, “The Earth, That is Sufficient”—a group show highlighting “landscape painting, drawing, sculpture and photography as an assortment of traditional and radical depictions that characterize the ground we stand on and the distance we look out upon.” The multi-generational assembled group of artist tackle the narrative theme of landscape through their distinct lenses—from traditional landscape portraiture, to a more abstract interpretation of terrain and topography.
The exhibition features work by Syrian-American poet & artist: Etel Adnan, Alvaro Barrington, Sholto Blissett, Lauren Halsey, iconic Black portraiture painter: Barkley L. Hendricks, Shara Hughes, Marcus Jahmal, “earth-body” performance artist: Ana Mendieta, Walter Price, Ugo Rondinone, Uman and Joseph Elmer Yoakum. The show takes on a poetic theme through the literal and metaphorical interpretations of scenery, as its title is taken from an 1856, Walt Whitman poem: Song of the Open Road. “The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer, I know they are very well where they are, I know they suffice for those who belong to them.”
A personal standout of the show, are the two ovoid, Barkley L. Hendricks lush, Jamaican landscape paintings—“Blue, Green and Black River” and “Twins On Bathtub Beach.” (see: below) The masses tend to box Hendricks into a figurative/portraiture classification, when in fact he was quite the multidisciplinary artist, so to see his work included in this show—is a triumph. These paintings make the case for interjecting Black landscape painters into the cannon of landscape portraiture—much in the essence of Henry Ossawa Tanner. These more traditional form landscapes juxtaposed against the geometric interpretation of Somalian multidisciplinary artist Uman, are what makes this exhibition so rich. This collective of multi-generational, multi-ethnic artist all pulling from their perspectives of what the world looks and feels like to them: from implied signage and symbols of environments, to literal documentation of romantic vistas.
“The landscapes on view manifest as thought, object, vista and action. They offer up literal and metaphorical journeys and the terrestrial as full of physical and mental possibilities.”
With this show: a multi-generational, multi-ethnic collective of artist, as well as it’s inaugural show, it’s clear that Nicola Vassell Gallery is out to create space and a platform for the multitude of artist voices often marginalized or erased. We tip our hats off to Nicola Vassell and her curatorial team for setting out to showcase the beauty of the world, as told through such distinct interpreations.
See some of the works on view below:
“The Earth, That is Sufficient” is on view until September 3, 2021 at Nicola Vassell Gallery in Chelsea, NYC.