Galerie Lelong & Co., New York is pleased to announce the group exhibition Open Doors, organized with Welancora Gallery (Brooklyn, New York) and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Works by the galleries’ artists: Carl E. Hazlewood, Helen Evans Ramsaran, Chris Watts (represented by Welancora Gallery), and June Edmonds (represented by Luis De Jesus Los Angeles) will be presented in an unprecedented collaboration at Galerie Lelong’s location in Chelsea. A virtual panel with the artists will be held the week after the exhibition opens.
In Open Doors, a multi-generational group of abstractionists present works on paper, painting and sculpture. Within the larger gallery space, works by Hazlewood, Ramsaran, and Watts are firmly rooted in an abstract visual language developed by manipulating and reimagining a diverse group of materials. Working seamlessly across painting, installation, and drawing, Carl E. Hazlewood employs paper, map pins, push pins and polyester to create shifting planes that relay a message of joy and resilience despite insurmountable odds. Helen Evans Ramsaran distills memories from her early childhood imagination into thin bronze relief sculpture in her series titled Visual Tales. As observed by Antwaun Sargent, “Ramsaran’s skeletal works are a part of a sculptural tradition that include artists such as Jack Whitten, Elizabeth Catlett, Mel Edwards and Simone Leigh who also draw on what the late curator Okwui Enwezor called, ‘the spatial language which inhabit African sculptural idioms.’” Chris Watts’s practice centers on the transfiguration of painting, drawing, video, and installation. He employs resin, found wood, silk and pigment to create lush atmospheric paintings as an act that disrupts and re-examines social and political narratives.
In the gallery’s smaller space, June Edmonds’s latest body of work, titled Joy of Other Suns, uses social abstraction to navigate the complex issues of race and history. In four paintings, Edmonds commemorates the contributions of African-American female pioneers and early landowners in Southern California, identifying four women and expanding on their histories. In many new works from this series, a marked departure from Edmonds’s layered impasto texture is observed, where the artist now employs a flatter application of paint. Her works enter a wider conversation about painting and geometric abstraction; with prominent leaf shapes embodying feminine energy and birth while the sinuous curves allude to the geography and streets where these women lived. Edmonds points to the paradox of these trailblazing Black women once owning the very land of some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the United States. Joy of Other Suns references Isabel Wilkerson’s book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, a historical study of the mass exodus of Black Americans from the South, that in turn was drawn from a poem by Richard Wright, reflecting on his own experience migrating from the South to Chicago in the 1920s.
With the initiative to host other galleries originating from founding members of Galleries Curate, across the US and UK, Sadie Coles HQ and Petzel have also offered their exhibition spaces this summer, creating a platform for exchange and dialogue.
About the artists
June Edmonds was born in 1959 in Los Angeles and earned her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, and BFA from San Diego State University. She also attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and earned a certificate in education from UCLA. Solo exhibitions include a 40- year retrospective exhibition, June Edmonds: Full Spectrum (2021-2022), organized and presented by Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles; June Edmonds (2021) at the University Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, CA; and a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, CA, opening in September 2022. Edmonds has exhibited at the California African American Museum, Davis Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, David Owsley Museum of Art, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Luckman Fine Art Gallery at California State University Los Angeles, and Watts Tower Art Center in Los Angeles, among other venues. She is a recipient of the 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship, the AWARE Prize (Archive of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions) at The Armory Show 2020 for best solo booth presentation by a female artist; a 2020 Harpo Foundation Grant; and a 2018 Los Angeles Individual Artist Grant (COLA) fellowship, among others.
Carl E. Hazlewood was born in 1951 in Guyana, South America. He received a BFA with honors, from Pratt Institute, and an MA from Hunter College, CUNY. Parallel to his studio practice, Hazelwood co- founded Aljira, a Center for Contemporary Art in Newark, NJ in 1983. Recent honors include Fellowships and residencies from The Brown Foundation Fellows Program at the Dora Maar House, (administered by MFAH (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), Ménerbes, France, Summer & Winter 2018; The Bogliasco Foundation (Fellow) Liguria Study Center for the Arts & Humanities, Village of Bogliasco, Italy, Fall 2018; NARS Foundation; the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Headlands Center for the Arts; Yaddo; Vermont Studio Center; and the MacDowell Colony, among others. A 2017 ‘Tree of Life’ award grantee, his fifty-two feet painting installation, ‘TRAVELER’, was commissioned by the Knockdown Center, Maspeth, Queens, in 2017. As a curator and writer, he is the associate editor for NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University), and “The Arts Journal: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Literature, History, Art and Culture of Guyana and the Caribbean”, Georgetown, Guyana. Since 1984, he has organized numerous curatorial projects for Aljira such as Modern Life (co-curated with Okwui Enwezor). His project on behalf of Aljira, “Current Identities, Recent Painting in the United States,” was the U.S. prize-winning presentation at the Bienal Internacional de Pintura, Cuenca, Ecuador, in 1994. It traveled for three years to eleven other countries and museums in Latin America.
Helen Evans Ramsaran was born in Bryan, Texas in 1943. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education (1965) and an MFA in sculpture (1968) from Ohio State University where she studied bronze casting with David Black and welding with John Freeman. She moved to New York in 1973 and began teaching sculpture and ceramics at the City University of New York in 1974. Shortly thereafter (1978), she created a series of bronze relief sculpture called Visual Tales. This is her only series that is autobiographical in its statement and assumes the form of a visual narrative. In executing this body of work at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in Princeton, New Jersey, Ramsaran was able to perfect the technique of casting very delicate, calligraphic, bronze sculpture. In the 1980s, Ramsaran’s work took a major shift and developed into an exploration of ancient rituals, African oral traditions, myths, fossilized remains, supernatural power, and ancient African inspired architecture. While her sculpture during this period and beyond is inanimate, there is a lurking sense of humanity’s presence. The subtle carvings on many of Ramsaran’s sculpture are meant to represent African scarification and elements in nature, such as lighting and rain that mark the change in plating seasons and that speak of a lost reverence for nature and its life-sustaining power. Ramsaran has exhibited extensively throughout the world with several international showings in Japan, Paris, and Johannesburg. Ramsaran continues to travel throughout the world, splitting her time between New York, Europe, and Africa.
Chris Watts was born in High Point, North Carolina. He attended the MFA program at Yale School of Art, New Haven, CT, after graduating from the College of Arts and Architecture, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC, and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Wroclaw, PL. The artist has held various artist residencies, among them the Marek Maria Pienkowski Foundation, Chelm, PL; McColl Center for Art + Innovation, Charlotte, NC; the Art & Law Fellowship Program, at Cornell University Art Architecture Planning, New York, NY; and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program, New York, NY. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. He is a featured artist in the documentary film, The Art of Making It, directed by Kelcey Edwards, and from the Emmy-nominated producer Debi Wisch (The Price of Everything). The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Hamptons International Film Festival. Watts shares his time between New York and North Carolina.
For more information, visit Galerie Lelong.