Beverly Semmes & Freddie Brice
September 23 - November 4, 2012
This exhibition linking two artists from highly divergent backgrounds slips the paradigm between insider and outsider by blurring such distinctions. Beverly Semmes' red totemic clay sculptures inhabit an environment created by Freddie Brice's lively black and white interiors in a pairing evoking the flatness of Matisse's "Red Studio" brought into three dimensions.
Semmes' freestanding sculptures range in size from 2 - 6 feet high and are painted in varying shades of bright red and orange. Intensely visceral and gnarly, their earthiness is by turns exotic, anthropomorphic, and primal. These large hand-built stacks of pots incorporate visible palm and fingerprints, with wonderful negative spaces fabricated by multiple "handles." As she has done with her well known uninhabited and oversized dress sculptures, Semmes liberates her work from convention by ignoring or stepping outside the hidebound rules and regulations of traditional craft. After working in clay for over twenty years, this is the first exhibition of these vibrantly colored towers from this internationally recognized mid-career artist who has been showing since 1990.
The paintings of Freddie Brice (1920-1998) are executed with a startling directness and confidence, and are quintessentially urban, secular, reductive and immediate. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Brice moved to Harlem when he was nine. As an adult he was intermittently employed, most significantly at the Brooklyn Navy Yard painting ships, before he began making his own paintings in 1983. Depicting interiors, clocks, potted plants, and furniture his renderings reduce complex scenes to a graphic essence, fusing a spontaneous approach to expressive formalism. Interchanging light and dark and positive and negative with an unpremeditated direct line to the unconscious, he boldly willed his private visions of domestic mise-en-scenes into existence.
Straightforward and unfiltered, both artists approach art with assurance and vigor, united by unmediated tactility in their respective mediums. The combination of Semmes' red organic spires and Brice's black and white floating chairs, tables, and wristwatches generates an exuberant relationship between form and content in a reciprocally revealing visual kinship.
Beverly Semmes (b. Washington, DC) is based in NYC and has been exhibiting since 1990. She has had solo exhibitions at numerous international venues including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY, P.S.1/MoMA, New York, NY, Sculpture Center, New York, NY, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, Camden Arts Centre, London, Pecci Museum, Prato, Italy; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. A travelling solo exhibition of her work is currently on view at the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN.
Freddie Brice (1920-1998). In 1991 Brice's work was first shown in the exhibition "Art's Mouth" at Artists Space in New York which was curated by Connie Butler. Brice's work is in the collections of: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Museum of Art and The Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, The Museum of Everything, London. His last solo exhibition in the spring 2010 at KS Art, New York received reviews in The New York Times, The New Yorker and Timeout New York.