19 JANUARY - 3 MARCH 1995
Rice University Art Gallery, formerly the Sewall Art Gallery, re-opened Thursday, 19 January, 1995 with works by internationally known artists Leon Golub and Adrian Piper. These artists work in different ways but share an activist stance: both challenge us to recognize something about ourselves and our society. On view in the main gallery are sixteen of Golub’s drawings and paintings, including the monumental Beware of Dog (1992). The small gallery, newly dedicated to video and digital imagery works, contains Adrian Piper’s video installation Cornered (1988).
This exhibition inaugurates a new direction for the Rice University Art Gallery, one that explores contemporary issues to generate discourse within the university as well as Houston community. Says director Kimberly Davenport, “we are pleased to present the work of two artists who, with fearlessness and conviction of purpose, have long addressed issues of socio-political importance.”
Born in Chicago in 1922, Leon Golub has exhibited extensively in the US and abroad. Recognized as a master of figurative painting, his new works depart from the more concise compositions of the past, yet he continues to use his distinct pictorial language to reflect the state of our society. His large-sized canvases convey a distinctly American sensibility: complex layering of images taken from news reports depict a dark world in which we share culpability. “I would say that my figuration is ‘American,’ aggressive, and self-assured in its power claims, in its attitudes about domination. The figures may refer to South Africa or Latin America, but the force propelling the painting is American,” says Golub.
Adrian Piper is a Professor of Philosophy at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and a conceptual artist whose work since the early 1970s has employed strategies ranging from humor to confrontation to examine racism and received notions of identity. Cornered is a provocative installation that deals with Piper’s analysis of her own racial identity. The work consists of a video located in the corner of a room. In front of the monitor is a long table resting on its side. With its legs pointing out from the corner, it functions as a barrier. Six feet in front of the monitor are rows of chairs to accommodate viewers watching the videotape. The surrounding wall space is empty for five feet on either side except for photocopies of Piper’s father’s two birth certificates. One identifying him as white hangs on the right-hand wall flanking the monitor, while the other identifying him as octoroon hangs on the left-hand wall. In the video, Piper’s monologue, delivered in an intimate, personal style, presents the viewer with a master lesson in logic. Cornered is on loan from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
In 1984 Golub was the subject of a major retrospective at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. His paintings were included in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibition Black Male: Representation of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art.
Adrian Piper is the recipient of Guggenheim, Awards in the Visual Arts, and multiple National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, DC; Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge University, United Kingdom; and the Kunstverein München, Germany.