Helina Metaferia |
Refiguring the Canon
Paolo Morales | Memphis Tulips
Hamiltonian Gallery is pleased to present a new bodies of work by Helina Metaferia and Paolo Morales, presented in two solo exhibitions. "Refiguring the Canon" and "Memphis Tulips" will open with a reception on Saturday, August 11th, from 7 - 9 pm. The artists will be in attendance.
In “Refiguring the Canon,” artist Helina Metaferia creates a hybrid environment where performance art and collage are used to interrogate racism, sexism, and notions of western exceptionalism within art historical narratives and institutional spaces. Metaferia displays documentation from performances at the National Gallery of Art and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in which she asserts her body using simple gestures in contrast to historic artworks, challenging their conceptual meaning. In other works, Metaferia uses found magazines, including Art News, Art Forum, and Art in America, that were published in the 1980’s (the decade of her birth). Combining the images of artwork featured in the magazines with photographic stills from her recent performances, Metaferia creates an avatar persona that reclaims a space in art history for under-recognized and marginalized women and artists of color. Playing with the 1980’s trending re-interest in “primitivism,” Metaferia uses her Ethiopian-American female body as a way to reclaim that gaze and decolonize the appropriation of black culture. Revisiting Hannah Hoch’s “From An Ethnographic Museum” series from a black woman’s perspective, and addressing the Guerrilla Girls’ timeless questioning of “greatness” in art history, Metaferia examines how these dated issues remain relevant today.
In “Memphis Tulips”, photographer Paolo Morales presents a selection of color photographs of the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia that he began as an Artist in Residence at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Focusing his attention on the quiet moments that punctuate the streets and lives of the residents of Kensington, Morales characterizes the neighborhood as an area that is filled with hope despite adverse conditions. Using color and light to set the tone, Morales captures the presence of human tenderness in an unforgiving urban environment. In his photographic description of Kensington, murals of bucolic landscapes and planters filled with plastic flowers adorn an alleyway, and an inflatable swimming pool turns a concrete backyard into an oasis. The moments captured in “Memphis Tulips” stand in stark contrast with the neighborhood’s harsh environs: through the formal rigor of Morales’ images, sensitivity co-exists with urban blight, and his subjects nurture one another unconditionally. Named after two streets in Kensington, “Memphis Tulips” is Morales’s empathetic portrait of a place and the people who call it home.