An Incomplete Intervention: “Subliminal Horizons” | Visual arts | Hudson Valley

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  • “Subliminal Horizons”, curated by Alvin Hall. Installation view of the Alexander Gray Associates Germantown gallery. Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, New York.

The first thing you notice when you come across Alexander Gray Associates in Germantown is the serene temple-like atmosphere of this beautifully designed space. Nestled in a historic building on Main Street and nestled in the converted garage on the main floor, the welcoming warmth of this gallery radiates an immediate and generous uplifting energy.

Organized by Alvin Hall, “Subliminal Horizons” is a lively two-part exhibition spread between Germantown and Manhattan. This exhibit is dubbed an open survey of Black, Indigenous, Brown, and Asian artists living and working in the Hudson Valley region. The dynamic Mr. Hall – an award-winning television and radio broadcaster, best-selling author, journalist, art lover and collector – makes his curatorial debut with this mindful presentation. (A footnote here is Hall’s recent social commentary project in which he drove from Detroit to New Orleans, conducting 45 interviews in 12 days to document stories of underrepresented black Americans).

Bringing together the work of 20 cross-generational artists working in a range of creative media – including Huma Bhabha, Melvin Edwards, Jeffrey Gibson, David Hammons, Laleh Khorramian, Glenn Ligon, Adam Pendleton, Martin Puryear and Karlos Cárcamo, among others – “Subliminal Horizons” offers a kaleidoscopic glimpse into the cultural life of the Hudson Valley.Rather than a critically curated thesis in itself, this exhibition offers more of a metaphorical stanza extracted from a larger creative poem that goes beyond the exhibition itself, reminding us that art always expresses aspects of an endlessly imaginative narrative.

“Subliminal Horizons” is not only presented in different places, the exhibition articulates two complementary shows at the same time: the first visual aspect is that of a joyful and playful adventure, while the other is the expression of spiritual sensitivities bordering on the ineffable. In my reading of the first part of the exhibition, the jovial story begins with two small works in mixed media by Carlos Vega, Patmos (2020) and Love in the time of Covid (2020). These precious fairy scenes give the impression that we are immediately in an altered state.

This natural world of curious mystery then turns into a photograph of Xaviera Simmons, If we believe in theory #1 (2009). Here, a female figure dressed as Little Red Riding Hood stands alone in a lush field, pausing to breathe in a magical moment of youth. The bold red of his cape continues in the following work: Antiquariato Busted (2020), a full-bleed crimson mixed media piece by Lyle Ashton Harris, whose layering of abstract visuals is a systematic orchestration of form. There is a delightful reverberation between two works on the adjacent wall – a two-dimensional pearl painting INFINITE INDIGENOUS QUEER LOVE (2020) by Jeffrey Gibson and a spray painted abstraction titled To fall (2021) by Laleh Khorramian – and a series of square papier-mâché sculptures filled with glossy acrylic paint by Kianja Strobert arranged in a cluster on the floor.

There is a distinct shift from the whimsical scenes of the main room to the prayerful tone of a smaller room at the back of the gallery. This space houses the second part of this “two shows in one” exhibition, and it is sublime. A sculpture of Huma Bhabha, not about you (2012), leads us. At first sight, this work looks like a head shape, but on closer inspection, the piece turns into a kind of muscular compilation that is both figurative and abstract. As we enter the room, we see three meditative line drawings by Jennie C. Jones along the wall, Not titled yet (2021).

We then encounter the most fascinating piece of the exhibition, a sculpture by David Hammons without title or date. This striking work combines the body of a Buddha with an African mask head, presenting a rare Buddhist and Afro-esoteric embodiment. In all my years of wandering around visiting great art, I’ve never seen a mash-up like this – this sculpture is profoundly beautiful. As I turned to exit this smaller room, an energetic painting duo by Kenji Fujita titled Set/Reset #3 and Set/Reset #15 (2021) allowed for a renewed connection with the whimsical works of the Other Room. Finally, a large black ink abstract drawing by Martin Puryear, Mestissage/Camouflage (2016), and pigment work on polymer gypsum by Diana Al-Hadid, Untitled (2020), provide a metaphysical coda for the show.

I had the good fortune to see both parts of the “Subliminal Horizons” double exhibition and, taken together, the graceful combination of elements presented throughout – figuration, abstraction, texuality, interconnection, interiority – allow us to explore a dreamlike multiplicity of directions. the bridle. This show is an “incomplete intervention” that is also full of rich reverbs and intentional cross-pollinations. As Hall said, in this exhibition “the coverage and discovery of personal and social histories” and the “tensions between traditions, modernism and the growing pluralism of contemporary art” is therefore an exercise in expansion while honoring creative connections in the Hudson Valley and beyond.

“Subliminal Horizons” will be presented from July 2 to August 15 at the two Alexander Gray Associates sites.