Howardena Pindell: A New Language
Howardena Pindell’s first solo exhibition in a public organisation in the UK
This is Howardena Pindell’s first solo exhibition in a public organisation in the UK, and it takes its cue as well as its title from her. Writing in the 1980s, she described the overwhelming whiteness of exhibitions and the exclusion of artists of colour as all but tokens, and asserted: I am an artist. I am not part of a so-called “minority”, “new” or “emerging” or “a new audience”. These are all terms used to demean, limit, and make people of color appear to be powerless. We must evolve a new language which empowers us and does not cause us to participate in our own disenfranchisement. The exhibition tracks the development of Pindell’s artistic language from the 1970s to now, and examines her work as exemplary in articulating empowerment.
Pindell has made beautiful, abstract paintings by spraying paint through a hand-made, hole-punched stencil. She has made intricate, complex paintings that layer paint with collaged paper circles, thread, glitter, powder and sequins. She has made paintings about war, Apartheid, police violence, the AIDS crisis, slavery and the environment. Her works on paper play with the tropes of lists, tallies, graphs and grids. And her two videos, Free White and 21 (1980) and Rope/Fire/Water (2020) confront racism head on. The exhibition brings together a significant selection of her work, and does its best to celebrate and communicate her vision, in the hope that we might all be able to respond to her urgent call for change.