NEW YORK, NY.-
Histories are created, disseminated, and passed down, but they are also altered, forgotten, and re-shaped.
Featuring artists Charlie Billingham, Alexander Harrison, Andrea Joyce Heimer, Esteban Jefferson, and Tanya Merrill, New Old Histories showcases artists who variously co-opt, critique, and upend conventions of historical painting, and in the process provide a lens through which to view the world today.
Born in London, UK 1984
Lives and works in London, UK
Billingham's boisterous paintings, screens, and interior installations appropriate imagery from the satirical prints of Regency England. Men in undone formalwear and powdered wigs are disconnected from their original contexts so that the absurd, comic, and grotesque become snapshots of bestial inclinations. The artists technical approach focuses on pigment, texture, and surface, using both oil and acrylic paint on surfaces of polyester, linen, tapestry, canvas, or wood panel.
He completed his joint honors MA at the University of Edinburgh and Edinburgh College of Art in 2008, and received a postgraduate degree from the Royal Academy Schools, London, in 2013. His work is in permanent collections at Saatchi Collection, London, UK; Ramin Salsali Private Museum, Dubai, UAE; Franks-Suss Collection, London, UK; and HSBC Collection, London, UK.
Born in Greenville, SC 1993
Lives and works in NY, NY
Harrison draws on his experiences growing up as a young Black man in the South to explore isolation, longing, and loneliness. Blending references from American cinema, literature, and illustration, with surrealist symbols such as flower heads, the moon, and dislocated limbs, Harrisons Southern landscapes, often set at dusk, are populated by Black cowboys. Commonly erased by popular culture depicting the South, these figures propose ways in which we might re-emphasize acts of Black heroism in America, and their attire also hints at personal narrativesHarrison notes that his own grandfather often sported a cowboy hat. These inclusions from the artists past do not constitute an easy invitation to enter into over-familiarity, however. Utilizing trompe loeil framing devices that double as windowpanes or prison bars, Harrison creates portals that establish an immutable distance between subject and viewer, reasserting the melancholic tenor of the themes presented.
Harrison has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Fisher Parrish Gallery, New York, and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles.
ANDREA JOYCE HEIMER
Born in Great Falls, MT 1981
Lives and works in Ferndale, WA
Heimer's paintings evoke narrative friezes and tapestries, adopting a flattened perspective that speaks to a simultaneity of experience. Her work contains complex, imaginative and original use of symbolic figures and iconography, referencing the Garden of Eden and Greek mythology, while also creating and recording personal mythologies. At the center is a curiosity regarding the subject of loneliness, and her interest in originsof the universe, of narrative artrespond to the obscurity surrounding her own young life.
She received an MFA from the New Hampshire Institute of Art and has held teaching appointments at Oregon College of Art and Craft (Portland), Western Washington University (Bellingham), and Emily Carr University of Art and Design (Vancouver).
Born in New York, NY 1989
Lives and works in NY, NY
In his Petit Palais series, Jefferson's vaporous canvases depict the sepia-toned art museum in Paris. The artists ethereal pencil strokes on brown-stained linen sketch out the museums lobby, in which bronze 19th century busts of unidentified African men and women are presented with no details regarding subject, authorship, or provenance. Separated from the Greek sculptures and uncontextualized, the works pose a multitude of questions regarding the colonialist conventions of museum display. Jeffersons paintings, in response, query whom in art history receives the privilege of being remembered.
Recent solo exhibitions include Petit Palais at Tanya Leighton, Berlin, in 2019, and an exhibition of the same name at White Columns, New York, in 2020. Also in 2020, as part of Art Production Funds citywide exhibition, 50 Artists: Art on the Grid, Jefferson presented an artwork across New York Citys transportation system. In 2021, the artist will present two major paintings at The Shed, New York, for the institutions Open Call commission.
Born in New York, NY 1987
Lives and works in NY, NY
Three paintings by Merrill imaginatively examine humankinds fraught relationship with nature and the paradoxical drives toward both consumption and conservation. Mining narratives from the development of the ecology of the United States, including the blight of the American chestnut tree, they are populated by sympathetic and symbolic non-human figures such as a feeding sow and the charcoal flames of a fireplace. Merrill renders the subtle movement of both with effervescence and immediacy, drawing on motifs from the art historical canon in order to use storytelling as a means to decode 21st-century concerns. Symbols and imagery make repeated appearances from one work to the next, building a mythology of personas and environments.
Merrill received her MFA from Columbia in 2018 and has been the subject of a solo exhibition at Half Gallery as well as participating in group exhibitions at 303 Gallery, New York; Gagosian Gallery, New York; and Almine Rech, London. In 2021, Merrill will be the subject of a solo exhibition at Pond Society, Shanghai.