Aspen Art Museum highlights work of Hervé Télémaque and Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey Gibson, THE SPIRITS ARE LAUGHING, 2022. Images courtesy Jeffrey Gibson, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Roberts Projects, Los Angeles; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Tony Prikryl /Photo Credit

After two consecutive museum-wide exhibitions, the Aspen Art Museum is presenting several different solo and group exhibitions this winter.

From sculpture to painting to film, the exhibitions currently on view are Jeffrey Gibson’s The Spirits Are Laughing, Hervé Télémaque’s A Hopscotch of the Mind, Mungo Thomson’s Sculptures, and Sanya Kantarovsky’s A Solid House. Multiple artists’ creations are found in another piece, Shadow Tracer: Works on Paper.

“We are interested in the stories and the questions that each of these artists is putting forth today and want to amplify these artists voices,” said Amy Roldan, the museum’s marketing/communications manager. “We strive to share varied, intimate, and meaningful experiences of art with our visitors, with a variety of themes and mediums to explore on every floor of the museum.”

Two exhibits stand out for their exploration of culture, identity, and race.

Artist, Jeffrey Gibson.
Brian Barlow / Photo Credit

From Colorado Springs-born artist Jeffrey Gibson, on the rooftop of the museum, visitors will find The Spirits are Laughing, a new site-specific sculpture represented by an assemblage of three anthropomorphized heads that incorporate stones, fossils, and other natural materials, grouped with his signature brightly-colored flags, each with a different pattern and text.

Jeffrey Gibson, The Spirits Are Laughing, 2022. (Photos courtesy Jeffrey Gibson, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Roberts Projects, Los Angeles; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.)
Tony Prikryl/Photo Credit

The MacArthur award-winning artist, who is a member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and of Cherokee descent, mixes indigenous aesthetic histories with the visual language of modernism to explore culture, history, and identity, basing this work around Indigenous kinship philosophy — “the idea of seeing the land as an extension of one’s own family or oneself.” 

In the galleries, an accompanying video filmed in Aspen features 15 queer-identified Native and non-Native color guard performers spinning flags, singing, and speaking to the land throughout multiple sites in the Roaring Fork Valley.

From left to right: Leo Balcer, Megan Templeton, Anna Daugherty, Ryan Vela, and Mazhone Morgan. Jeffrey Gibson, The Spirits Are Laughing, 2022.
Images courtesy Jeffrey Gibson, Sikkema Jenkins & Co, New York; Kavi Gupta Gallery, Chicago; Roberts Projects, Los Angeles; and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London. Brett Novak/Photo Credit

Gibson’s The Spirits are Laughing isn’t the only exhibit to tackle issues of socio-political impact of race and identity.

Museum curator Simone Krug explained, “Guests should expect to have their views challenged, namely in Haitian artist Hervé Télémaque’s exhibition, A Hopscotch of the Mind, which highlights the histories and contemporary resonances of racism, imperialism, and colonialism. These themes remained a constant throughout his career, with works that intimate the insidious ways these structures continue to permeate our everyday lives.”

Installation: Hervé Télémaque, A Hopscotch of the Mind, 2022.
Courtesy Aspen Art Museum

Hervé Télémaque: A Hopscotch of the Mind, is the first solo exhibition of the late Haitian artist’s work in a U.S. museum. Much like last year’s Warhol exhibit, it is in many ways a portrait of the artist’s life and includes multimedia works from the 1950s to the present day. The reconceptualized staging of the exhibition by London-based artist Helen Marten offers a nuanced, contemporary perspective on Télémaque’s work.

Born in 1937, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Télémaque was a French painter and sculptor and was associated with the surrealism and the narrative figuration movements (A French style that sought to revive representational painting as a leftist political strategy).

Hervé Télémaque, “Inventaire, un homme d’intérieur (Inventory, an Interior Man),” 1966 Acrylic on canvas, private collection
Courtesy Paul Coulon

He moved to New York as a young man, where he fell in love with abstract expressionism (DeKooning, Lam, Gorky). In 1961, discouraged by the segregationist mentality of the U.S. and the daily racism that underlined all his experiences here, he moved to Paris, where he lived and worked until his death in November 2022.

He is known for his bold, colorful work that tackled racism, colonialism, and their continued influence on society and was only recognized later in his life after his 2015 retrospective show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Hervé Télémaque, “Convergence,” 1966. Acrylic on canvas, collage and skipping rope Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint Etienne Métropol
Cyrille Cauvet /Photo Credit

A Hopscotch of the Mind highlights the themes of his work in a non-chronological, non-linear approach “encouraging viewers to jump between media and periods” to form their own interpretations between “the disparate fragments of his idiosyncratic narration.”

Alongside the Gibson and Télémaque exhibits, Thomson’s Sculptures and Sanya Kantarovsky’s A Solid House, as well as Shadow Tracer: Works on Paper, provide explorations into illusion, experimentation, and passage of time via drawing, sculpture, and film.

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