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Jasmine Little - Above Ground - Exhibitions - Simchowitz Gallery

For Jasmine Little’s first solo exhibition at Simchowitz Gallery titled “Above Ground,” work from across the artist’s practice has been selected to exhibit in a unique curatorial configuration—paintings and ceramic vessels chock full of visual references ranging from California petroglyphs to medieval manuscripts to Dutch still-life paintings to Picasso. The artist steeps herself in the history of cultural imagery and then allows memory, chance, and instinct to influence the resulting art works. In Dry Weather, 2018, a four-part canvas, we see eight somber, listless, nude women from a variety of periods in art history, alongside a pair of Cabbage Patch-like babies. The figures rest in repose within an Edenic environment filled with lily pads, bursting geysers, fresh fruit, and tender reeds. These women have been painted in the past, and here, Little unites and monumentalizes them in an epic large-scale work.

Statues, 2017, similarly brings together various female bodies, this time rendering three-dimensional figures from a number of different styles and times. There is a certain bleakness here: one woman’s eyes are closed; another has her back turned to us; yet another looks downcast; several have no faces at all. And yet, there is a whimsy to the stylistic heterogeneity, and the abstracted background in assorted shades of purple, green, and blue lends sensuality and beauty to the work. One effigy even appears to be climbing up a mountain with her arms raised in triumph. Two paintings, Greek, 2018, and Greek Blue Snakes, 2018, utilize a similar color palette to that of Statues (with the important addition of golden yellow) and yet feature markedly different imagery, this time classical in nature. These paintings exude revelry and liveliness. Royal characters appear to smile; others dance; snakes slither; all intermingle in a surrealist conglomeration.

The ceramic pieces in the exhibition continue the theme of an admixture of styles. Made in a more off-the-cuff, single manner, and subject to the unpredictable firing process, these works allow Little to luxuriate in the risks and fortunes of chance. References include Mimbres pottery, Athenian black and red figuration, and Japanese wood blocks. In Above Ground Fleshy Fruiting Body, 2022, a cylindrical, glazed stoneware vessel, we spot lilies, butterflies, snails, and grass. In Spirit Sisters, 2022, a more heavily carved ceramic work, a drama ensues: One woman appears to grasp onto the frail, thin torso of a distraught, wailing woman. Within Shadow Self, 2022, we see reference to both Egyptian and Medieval visual language. Little’s works have reverence for the art historical cannon as well as indigenous art making and craft. She fills herself with this imagery— from museums, from books, from petroglyphs in natural environments— and then allows the visuals to emerge, transmute, and transcend as they will in her enticing, complex work.

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