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Arthur Jafa

Arthur Jafa

Arthur Jafa is an American artist who works seamlessly across film, photography, happenings, moving image and sound installation, found material and prints. His work explores and questions the Black experience in American culture, encompassing its beauty, power and alienation.

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Arthur Jafa
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NEWS

Legendary New York Gallerist Barbara Gladstone Dies at 89

Legendary New York Gallerist Barbara Gladstone Dies at 89

Observer · 19 Jun, 2024 @ 10:56

Keith Haring and Robert Rauschenberg’s estates have been with the gallery for years thanks to its high-quality programming and the museum-level exhibitions, which later attracted also some of the most interesting institutional artists that emerged in the last decades, including Anicka Yi, Wangechi Mutu and Philippe Parreno.

Barbara Gladstone: A Titan Of The NY Gallery World Dies Aged 89

Barbara Gladstone: A Titan Of The NY Gallery World Dies Aged 89

Artlyst · 17 Jun, 2024 @ 18:57

Barbara Gladstone, a towering figure in the contemporary art scene and a major influence on the art world, passed away on Sunday, June 16, in Paris after a brief illness, as confirmed by a spokesperson for her gallery, Gladstone.

Barbara Gladstone, veteran New York gallerist, dies

Barbara Gladstone, veteran New York gallerist, dies

Art Review · 17 Jun, 2024 @ 03:48

Barbara Gladstone gave up teaching art history at Hofstra University to open her eponymous Manhattan dealership in 1980.

 

About the Artist

Arthur Jafa is an American artist who works seamlessly across film, photography, happenings, moving image and sound installation, found material and prints. His work explores and questions the Black experience in American culture, encompassing its beauty, power and alienation.

Jafa was born in 1960 and grew up in a segregated Mississippi, recalling that he attended first grade at of the first schools to be integrated. From a young age, Jafa was interested in identity and self- expression. He has commented that he doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t feel aware of other people’s projections and perceptions, which inevitably influenced his own. Jafa moved to Washington D.C. to study film and architecture at Howard University where he first encountered the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 70s, leading him to begin thinking about how his work might fit into the history of Black aesthetics.

During the 1990s, Jafa worked in the film industry as Director of Photography and cinematographer on numerous internationally recognised movies, including Julie Dash’s ‘Daughters of the Dust’ (1991), Spike Lee’s ‘Crooklyn’ (1994) and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ (1999). After a few years away from the arts, in the 2010s Jafa worked with musicians such as Solange, Beyoncé and Jay-Z in creating their music videos. His interest in dismantling monolithic representations of Blackness took on a new energy around this time, spurring a wave of diverse artistic creation and fluidly moving across various media.

In 2016, Jafa displayed the hundreds of binders of images he had been collecting for decades at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, featuring material derived first from libraries and newsstands and then the internet, and content ranging from academic texts to comic books, high art to celebrity culture. Displayed on the walls of a gallery, the books became a visual lexicon of diasporic Blackness and a realistically thorough account of the diversity of Black being. In the same year, Jafa received international critical acclaim for ‘Love is the Message, the Message is Death’, a short film of found footage documenting both the suffering and beauty of Black experience, set against the music of Kanye West’s ‘Ultralight Beam’.

The following year, the Serpentine Gallery in London worked with Jafa on the exhibition ‘A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions’. In this, Jafa presented a new series of assembled images, both found and original, alongside that of other Black artists, addressing the radical alienation of Black life in the West.

Jafa has explained that “one of the basic conundrums of Black being is that the very things that have oppressed us are the very things that define who we are and if we erase all the suppression and stuff, we sort of erase ourselves”. These themes of absence, haunting and melancholia are often paired alongside empowerment in Jafa’s work, often making for jarring viewing. Take ‘LA Haze I’ (T1) and ‘LA Haze II’ (T2) for example – absent of figures but bursting with meaning specific to the Black life in south LA.

Jafa’s confident fluency in working with images arises from his engagement with and meticulous archiving of visual content from a young age. The content of his assembled books derives from mass produced and widely distributed images, a theme that translates naturally into printmaking and intersects with the artist’s lifelong aspiration to identify the aesthetics of a relatable Black experience.

Arthur Jafa
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