Found the Sea Like the River

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  • Provenance

    David Castillo Gallery, Miami

  • Catalogue Essay

    XAVIERA SIMMONS
    Born 1974, New York, NY
    Lives and works in New York, NY

    2005 Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, New York, NY
    2004 BFA, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

    Selected honors: Visionary Artist Award Honoree, Art in General (2017); The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award (2016); The Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant (2015); The David C. Driskell Prize (2008)
    Selected museum exhibitions and performances: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; The Museum of Arts and Design, New York; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
    Selected public collections: The Guggenheim Museum, New York; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta; ICA Miami; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

    Xaviera Simmons’s interdisciplinary approach is rooted in a critical interrogation of the constant flux of fiction and reality, public and private histories and identities. A modern-day Renaissance woman, Simmons combines a wide range of art forms. While she is perhaps best known as a photographer, Simmons also is committed to performance, sculpture, installation, and video as the means to investigate experience and memory as cyclical versus linear. As fellow artist Adam Pendleton succinctly said, “As comfortable with taking a picture as she is with producing a theater piece or performing a DJ gig, she makes work that is perpetually in flux.” Simmons probes the question of how identitiy comes into being by a research-based investigation of history, mythology, archival materials and her own personal collection.

    All of Simmons’ artistic endeavors are connected by overarching investigation of landscape in its widest sense. As she has explained, “I tend to think of my whole practice as landscape based. Any photograph I make is a landscape; even in the text and sound works there’s some landscape I’m trying to construct.” The influence of her travels and interdisciplinary training comes through in all her work, particularly her experience of joining a group of Buddhist monks on a pilgrimage that retraced the route of the transatlantic slave trade. They walked from Massachusetts to Florida, and later from Gambia to Nigeria.

    Found the Sea like the River, 2018, is a quintessential example of Simmons' text-based paintings that draw from the diaries and observations of Christopher Columbus. Devoid of context, Columbus’ observations of his encounter with the North American continent are transformed into poetic visual gestures. Text becomes images as the observations conjure an idyllic landscape, seemingly at odds with the loaded historical conflict that would follow. Re-engaging with historical narrative, Simmons probes shifting notions of landscape, history and memory to capture the fiction/truth dialectic.

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Found the Sea Like the River

acrylic on wood panel
74 1/4 x 96 3/4 in. (188.6 x 245.7 cm.)
Executed in 2018.

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AMERICAN AFRICAN AMERICAN

New York Selling Exhibition 10 January - 8 February 2019