ARTnews and JENNIFER BAAHNG GALLERY presented a LIVE INTERVIEW with
ARTnews President and Editorial Director MARION K. MANAKER and artist JANET TAYLOR PICKETT
on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021,
with opening Janet Taylor Pickett’s first live solo exhibition, NECESSARY MEMORIES and announcing her gallery representation.
Sept 14 – Oct 30, 2021
MEET THE ARTIST:
Sept 15 & 16, 12PM – 3PM
Janet Taylor Pickett with Marion K. Maneker
Sept 14 at 5PM
Marion K. Maneker is President & Editorial Director of ARTnews, Art in America, and Art Market Monitor
“My Blackness is a declarative statement in my work. There are wonderful, discarded objects brought home by my father and botanical prints my mother found from various secondhand stores. Makers of things and tellers of stories surrounded me. In the late 1960s and early 1970s in the midst of socio-political activities, I began to formulate an aesthetic language, a visual synergy. The symbolism of the African American quilt, the pejorative images of the watermelon became part of my cryptology.”
— Janet Taylor Pickett
NECESSARY MEMORIES chronicles Janet Taylor Pickett’s journey as an artist, showcasing selected works from the 1980s through 2021. Coexisting in her often-ornate paintings and collages is imagery drawn from art history, Africa, America and Europe, present and past wherein linear timeframes and logical geographic or cultural relationships are defied. Bold and unapologetically stated, her lyrical and animated work is a multi-textural exposé referencing her varied experiences. The artist offers a confessional narrative illuminated through images of memory and identity. NECESSARY MEMORIES is a living metaphor of the artist finding her way and establishing her presence in the world. This is Taylor Pickett’s first solo exhibition with JENNIFER BAAHNG GALLERY and her first in New York.
What is evident in both bookends of her ongoing art practice is that Taylor Pickett is a storyteller drawing on and weaving throughout her work vivid overlapping motifs. The black female figure that populates her creations are singular women in a singular time and space, drawing on harrowing tales of the Underground Railroad and her own family’s stories as part of the Great Migration that brought them to the Midwest. Her pathway to becoming an artist was tilled in that verdant soil of memory, reflected in the richness of her palette and the skin tones of her figures. These women are manifestly strong and defiant, a posture evident in their intense gazes and frequently in a stance with arms akimbo, itself a representation of power.
Metaphor plays a central role in Taylor Pickett’s art. This is most apparent in the prevalence of the dress form in many of her works that serves as a stand-in for female identity and a vessel for memory. Another frequent motif is the watermelon, employed as an evocative and provocative symbol in her compositions. The artist sees this ancient form as “a woman’s fruit–red, juicy, sweet, sensuous, round.” Flora and fauna permeate her compositions as well, surfacing in imaginative forms that contribute to the allegorical nature of her work. In the artist’s use of autobiographical symbolism and engagement with issues of fecundity one finds resonance with the self-portraits of Frida Kahlo.
While Romare Bearden’s influence is reflected both visually and conceptually in Taylor Pickett’s multifaceted collage techniques, she has also found frequent inspiration in her masterful interaction with European “masters.” In the cornucopia of artistic styles upon which the artist draws, one can see in her use of color and form vestiges of Henri Matisse. And the remarkable illumination in Johannes Vermeer’s interior scenes has echoes in Taylor Pickett’s more recent paintings. Her engagement with these artists challenges exclusionary practices of canonical art history, laying claim to her rightful place in this creative dialogue with unique compositions expressing her private and intimate musings in her own distinctive voice.
Revealed in this mosaic of tantalizing work is the way in which memories mold us into what we become. Enchantingly eclectic, NECESSARY MEMORIES is a feast for the eye and the soul. It is a window into Janet Taylor Pickett’s restless inner travels and reconciliation with her personal and inherited past.
May 15 – June 15, 2021
“My recent paintings were made during a pandemic. Making them was a daily meditative practice. It was like keeping a journal. French philosopher Roland Barthes draws an analogy between text and textiles (“text” comes from the Latin texere, to weave). Through a repetition of mark-making, my paintings appear woven. They are not painted to look like textile. Their appearance is a byproduct of the painting process. The completed painting is a record of my experience making it. The eye follows “threads” of paint, their accumulation creating a larger whole. My new work is paradoxical: slow yet fast, precise yet open, deliberate yet intuitive. I am freer for having made them.”
Janet Taylor Pickett
“My Blackness is a declarative statement in my work. There are wonderful discarded objects brought home by my father and botanical prints my mother found from various second hand stores. Makers of things and tellers of stories surrounded me. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’ in the midst of sociopolitical activities, I began to formulate an aesthetic language, a visual synergy. The symbolism of the African American quilt, the pejorative images of the watermelon became part of my cryptology.”
…In Memory of Tseng Kwong Chi (1991) is a photo series that looked to the work of one of Zhang’s contemporaries, the Hong Kong-born performance artist Tseng Kwong Chi, who died of AIDS in 1990. Appropriating Tseng’s photographs, Zhang used the work of his friend to further extrapolate upon the mechanisms by which iconography constructs identity and how artistic intervention can disrupt the language of power. Created for the 1991 exhibition Dismantling Invisibility; Asia and Pacific Island Artists Respond to the AIDS Crisis, Zhang’s work selected fifteen photographs from Tseng’s acclaimed self-portrait series East Meets West (also known as the Expeditionary Self-Portraits, 1979-89) and reconfigured them into photo collages using his familiar epoxy technique. In these photos, Tseng performed the role of “ambiguous ambassador” and posited himself the stereotypical tourist sites (the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, the Hollywood sign) while dressed in a Mao suit. The series was a subversive yet ludic exploration of cultural identity, perception, and the status of the individual amid the monumental. In Zhang’s reworking of these photos, he cut out the figure of his close friend and colleague, leaving a ghostly silhouette in his absence. The removal of Tseng’s body next to the famous profiles of monuments and natural wonders created a displacement that was not only a deeply sentimental tribute to a dear friend, but, in the words of Zhang, “dismantled” the imagery further, disrupting historical continuity…
“Art and China After 1989, Theater of the World”
Janet Taylor Pickett “And She Was Born” included in the Phillips Collection Centennial Exhibition and featured on the Cover of the Exhibition Catalogue
The Phillips Collects for a New Century
FEBRUARY 20, 2021 – SEPTEMBER 12, 2021
Our gallery artist, Janet Taylor Pickett and her work, And She Was Born, 2017, is included in Seeing Differently, the centennial exhibition at The Phillips Collection, marking the first major celebration of the museum’s permanent collection in over 10 years. Guided by Duncan Phillips’s belief in the universal language of art as a unifying force for social change, the exhibition presents dynamic and engaging juxtapositions that connect artists past and present across national, racial, and gender lines. Also, And She Was Born is featured on the cover of the exhibition Catalogue, The Phillips Collection in association with Giles 2021 and a multitude of interdisciplinary programs.
MORE THAN ONE WAY HOME
October 10 - November 24, 2020
Baahng Gallery celebrates its 2020 reopening with More Than One Way Home, an exhibition featuring the gallery’s represented artists: Sophie Matisse, Janet Taylor Pickett, and Zhang Hongtu. The exhibition offers a glimpse into the struggles of the artists and their coming to terms with their individual challenges. Sophie, the great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse and step-granddaughter of Marcel Duchamp, is an American oil painter working in New York City; Janet is an African American multi-media artist working on the West Coast; Hongtu is a Muslim Chinese artist who has been working in New York since 1982. The exhibition acknowledges and affirms that home, for these artists, is not situated in nostalgia. Rather, through a cyclical process of revisitation, they find home in both the present and future potential. More Than One Way Home follows a journey through each artist’s rite of passage in life and is a compelling visualization of distinct, individual expressive forms. Baahng Gallery is open Monday thru Friday, noon to 3pm, and by appointment.
Selected works from Sophie Matisse’s ‘Be Back in Five Minutes’ series are strategically installed in the gallery. Returning to renowned paintings by Gustave Courbet, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Charles Wilson Peale through her unique lens, she appropriates and embellishes upon, or subtracts from, recognizable works from art history. The interplay between absence and presence in these haunting paintings is evocative. Featured as well is her most recent painting, ‘Homeward 1’. In this contemplative autobiographical tondo completed during the pandemic quarantine, the artist positions an errant chess piece peering out over a window ledge into the hazy verdant void, invoking solitude and the uncertain but hopeful future ahead. More Than One Home highlights some of the most intriguing works from her celebrated series and is her inaugural show at Baahng Gallery commemorating her gallery representation.
‘Mappings of Memory’, a survey showcasing Janet Taylor Picket’s works, introduces selected paintings, collages, sculptures, and quilts from the 1990s through 2020. Her experiential work chronicles her journey as an African American woman, daughter, mother, and artist. Images drawn from art history, Africa, America and Europe, past and present, coexist in her often-ornate collages and paintings, defying linear timeframes and logical geographic or cultural relationships. The inclusion of the shipping crates in which the works were transported to the gallery adds a poignant historical dimension to the installation, referencing both her personal odyssey and that of her ancestors. The suggestive titles of the works on view reflect her creative vision: ‘Spirit Catchers', ‘Hot House', 'Melon Dress’, 'Exotica Botanica’, ‘Thoughtful Resilience’, and ‘She Has An Agency,’ the latter produced in 2020. These works constitute the artist’s confessional narrative circling back with newly found wisdom in life as well as in art. More Than One Way Home inaugurates Pickett’s representation with Baahng Gallery and presents her first New York exhibition.
Zhang Hongtu’s video, ‘Van Gogh/Bodhidharma’, is the centerpiece of his installation. This mesmerizing video production builds on his seven-year project (2007 – 2014), a set of 39 ink paintings that rework Van Gogh’s 39 extant self-portrait oil paintings in the style of classical Zen portraits of Bodhidharma. Revealed in both this video and the original endeavor upon which it was based are parallels in the lives and aesthetics of Zhang and Van Gogh. The artist compels viewers in both iterations of this project to reconsider Van Gogh’s fascination with Asian aesthetics, registering a more philosophical connection and inner resonance between the European post-impressionist artist and the East. Reflecting upon this project, Zhang expresses his approach as one that ‘dares to mate a horse with an ox’. Framing the video are wall texts quoting provocative passages from Van Gogh’s letters to his brother Theo and to Paul Gauguin. More Than One Way Home marks the launch of Zhang’s visionary ‘Van Gogh/Bodhidharma Project’—a quixotic effort to unite his ink paintings with the original painted portraits—and announces his official gallery representation with Baahng Gallery.
Janet Taylor Pickett, “And She Was Born”, currently on view and recently acquired by The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.
Janet Taylor Pickett, “And She Was Born”, currently on view at “RIFFS AND RELATIONS: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition”, and recently acquired by The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Adrienne L. Childs and Janet Taylor Pickett is represented by Baahng Gallery.
RIFFS AND RELATIONS: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition
February 29 – May 24, 2020
Riffs and Relations: African American Artists and the European Modernist Tradition presents works by African American artists of the 20th and 21st centuries together with examples by the early 20th century European artists with whom they engaged. This exhibition explores the connections and frictions around modernism in the work of artists such as Romare Bearden, Robert Colescott, Renee Cox, Wassily Kandinsky, Norman Lewis, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Faith Ringgold, Hank Willis Thomas, and Carrie Mae Weems, among others. European modernist art has been an important, yet complicated influence on black artists for more than a century. The powerful push and pull of this relationship constitutes a distinct tradition for many African American artists who have mined the narratives of art history, whether to find inspiration, mount a critique, or claim their own space. Riffs and Relations examines these cross-cultural conversations and presents the divergent works that reflect these complex dialogues.
More than One Way Home
April – June, 2020
……………………….“Throughout my development as an artist, I began to recognize ‘home’ to be a metaphor; an idea for finding my visual voice. The ‘home’ of personal geography, the self-landscape of memory revealed, become the journey from which the artworks in this exhibition have been created.”……………………………………….
Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, Baahng Gallery is postponing upcoming exhibitions and programs. In the meantime, we will be providing series of online exhibitions and announcements. For information about the exhibitions or the works, please contact us at email@example.com