For this exhibition, Lewis Watts presents a body of work, created over the past four years and comprised of color photographs, that looks at people of color (of African and Arab descent) and how they live and interact in France. In light of rapidly changing demographics all over Europe, Watts’s exploration is especially timely, suggesting that current politics might be better informed by a simple understanding of history and geography. The photographs are extraordinarily joyful, mainly depicting the beauty and vitality that newcomers as well as long-term residents of diverse backgrounds bring to Paris and — as we should remind ourselves — to cities all over the world.
Lewis Watts’s photographic work has focused on sites of the production of African American culture, from Harlem to West Oakland and from New Orleans to Cuba. He has documented vernacular spaces such as storefront churches, open-air marketplaces, music halls, and barber shops, all of which he also describes as improvised spaces, noting that — as in African American music?? — African American environments, both rural and urban, are marked by improvisation stemming from a history of making the most with limited resources.
Bonnie Neumann‘s paintings, the Sea Clouds series, are based on manipulated photographic images that are transferred to silkscreen. The series title comes from Wallace Stevens’s poem “Sea Surface Full of Clouds,” which was an additional inspiration for this body of work, and for some of the titles. Since 2009 she has created images of her impressions of these surfaces as they are illuminated by various densities of light. The emergence of inherent orderly pattern, signifying a deeper internal structure underlying what is often perceived as chaos, inspires the development of her work. Meditative line drawings from personal observation, photographs, and other selected images are manipulated and then transferred to silkscreens, which are used with oil paint in multiple layers on wood panel or on paper. The effects of light on water and the traces of movement visible therein have long shaped her artistic vision.
November 7, 2015 – January 3, 2016
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco CA
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