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Press Release

Honor Fraser Gallery is pleased to announce the first one-person exhibition of works by Howardena Pindell on the west coast. The exhibition will open with a reception for the artist on September 11, 2015 from 6-8pm.

A significant figure in the discourse around abstract painting, conceptual art, and identity politics, Howardena Pindell has explored the potential for abstract painting and process-based practices to address social issues throughout her career. This exhibition looks at two facets of Pindell’s practice that have remained consistent through five decades of artmaking: abstract paintings and constructions on canvas, paper, and board; and a body of work Pindell calls “video drawings”, an ongoing series of photographic prints that arise from her unique hybridization of photography, video, and drawing.

Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1943 and based in New York City since 1968, Pindell earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Boston University in 1965 and her Master of Fine Arts at Yale University in 1967. She holds honorary doctorates from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Parsons The New School for Design. Between 1968 and 1978, she was on the curatorial staff at the Museum of Modern Art where she organized exhibitions for the Department of Drawings and Prints and the Department of Prints and Illustrated Books. Pindell’s work as a curator led to travels to places around the world where her research and experiences impacted her curatorial, artistic, and personal growth. The burgeoning feminist art movement of the 1970s provided an influential though fraught context for her work. Pindell was a co-founder of the seminal A.I.R. Gallery in 1970, and while feminism was a crucial element in her developing worldview, she also encountered racism that worked at cross-purposes to the positive growth of a progressive feminist politics in the movement.

Pindell’s particular mode of abstraction continually insists on a confluence of geometric forms (circles and grids) and organic gestures. By pushing the grid beyond its capacity to contain and create order, Pindell challenges its authority both pictorially and culturally. Using small bits of paper cut with hole punches, she has been constructing textural, large scale paintings that pin directly to the wall since the late 1960s. Monochromatic from afar, these immersive works reveal themselves to be made up of countless tiny gestures and bits of varying color upon closer view. Unafraid of radical shifts in scale, Pindell also creates diminutive, vibrant collages that sing with moments of hand drawn arrows and numbers running through their constituent parts. Often starting with a drawing on paper that she folds up and cuts with a hole punch, Pindell fashions organic shapes that defy categorization from her accumulation of circular cut-outs. In a body of work from the 2000s, Pindell’s ongoing exploration of two contrasting forms is explicit as numbered circles vie for space amid rigid grids in small assemblages on board.

To make her video drawings, Pindell draws on transparencies that she then affixes atop a television screen. While the televisual images flow behind the drawings, Pindell takes photographs that are ultimately realized as cibachrome prints. Deploying images from sporting events; documentary programs on nature, war, and history; and television shows aired in some of the many foreign countries Pindell has traveled to, the video drawings offer up a critique of media while also asserting Pindell’s constant return to process as a means through which to generate form. These moments that have been extracted from a perpetual stream of moving images provide rich backgrounds to which Pindell can react. As she has described, “Formally, the lines and numbers represent areas of tension in the interface of the image and the lines, force and energy, real and imagined.”

Howardena Pindell’s work has been exhibited widely since 1971 including one-person exhibitions at Just Above Midtown, New York (1977); Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL (1985); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (1986); Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT (1989); Georgia State University Art Gallery, Atlanta, GA (1993); and Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY (1999 and 2004). Thematic exhibitions featuring her work include Contemporary Black Artists in America, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1971); 1972 Annual Exhibition: Contemporary American Painting, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1972); Rooms: P.S.1, Queens, New York (1976); Thick Paint, Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago, IL (1978); Afro-American Abstraction: An Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture by Nineteen Black American Artists, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Queens, NY (1980-1984; touring); Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream 1970-1985, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH (touring); Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party in Feminist Art History, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA (1996); Strange Days, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL (2003); Double Consciousness: Black Conceptual Art since 1970, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX (2005); High Times, Hard Times: New York Painting, 1967-1975, Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC (2006-2007; touring); WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (2007-2009; touring); Lines, Grids, Stains, Words, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007-2009; touring); and Variations: Conversations in and around Abstract Painting, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA (2014-2015). Pindell’s work is held in public collections such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia; Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She has been a professor at State University, New York at Stony Brook since 1979.

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