Mequitta Ahuja, Kambui Olujimi, Kaveri Raina, Ato Ribeiro, Alex Yudzon
Automythography

July 8 - August 30, 2017

Kambui Olujimi, 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

Kambui Olujimi, 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

Anastasia Tinari Projects is thrilled to open at 1010 N Ashland with Automythography, a group exhibition of artists who employ visual strategies from their cultural background to map out their own identity and place within contemporary society. Ghanaian-American artist Ato Ribeiro’s intricately constructed wall sculptures weave together the artist’s two cultural back-grounds through Kente cloth and African-American quilting patterns. Ribeiro joins together pieces of found oak, walnut, pine, ash, MDF, and other wood to form a specific kente pattern, a Ghanian visual language that has long been used by the African-American community to symbolize African ties. Mequitta Ahuja uses her own performing body as the subject of her deeply-layered paintings, a melange of African-American and East Asian mythology, personal narrative, and Western painting traditions. In Journeyman II a female subject emerges Sphynx-like from a flat, abstracted river and swirling, symbolic cards- just as the artist asserts her identity as an African-American woman artist who simultaneously pays tribute to and subverts the weighty tradition of figurative painting. Activist and author Audre Lourde’s term “Automythography,” defined as “a constructive process of identity formation in which nature, culture, and self-invention merge,” was fruitful to Mequitta Ahuja in defining her own painting practice and unites the five diverse artists in this exhibition.

Alchemy and transformation also play a part in Kambui Olujimi’s Killing Time series, created from hand-blown glass handcuffs and collected costume jewelry. Flytrap, 2017, a seductive, shimmering hanging sculpture that references the dual reverence and punishment of rebellion in our society, an attitude which drives mass incarceration and particularly threatens the African-American community. Olujimi’s Walk with Me, ink wash portraits of his late mentor Catherine Arline, evoke the mythological status of figures who shape our upbringing. Chicago-based painter Kaveri Raina dyes, paints, and stains both sides of a thick burlap to create gorgeous, colorful, and multilayered paintings. As Michelle Grabner recently wrote “Raina’s investment in burlap - dyeing and staining it, pushing paint through the loosely woven jute, covering its porous weave with thick, flat coats of acrylic, and composing on the material’s backside- suggests that she understands the material as multi-dimensional [and one that signifies freetrade and global mobility]. Meanwhile Alex Yudzon, born in the Soviet Union, creates colorful and multi-dimensional collages with sunflower seeds as a symbol for chewing through his cultural back-ground. He states: "For me, living in exile and working decades after the collapse of the Soviet regime, sunflower seed shells remain a potent vestige of my past life. They are, like the image they depict, the spit out remnants of something larger. Now that their promise has been stripped away, the hollowness that remains is a powerful reminder of hope, failure and the unstoppable force of historical change.”

Artist Bios:
Baltimore-based painter Mequitta Ahuja received her MFA from UIC in 2004, where she studied with Kerry James Marshall, and she had a solo exhibition Dancing on the Hide of Shere Khan as part of the Museum of Contemporary Art - Chicago’s 12 x 12 series. Her ethnic heritage as the daughter of an African-American mother and a South Asian Indian father, played a significant role in her paintings prior to 2015, when her practice became more focused on issues of the body, mind, and our unique place in history through painting. Throughout this shifting focus in her work, Mequitta has continued to cast and use images of her own body as a form for her exploration of identity through painting. Her work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Baltimore Museum of Art, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Studio Museum in Harlem, Saatchi Gallery, The Brooklyn Museum, and others. Mequitta is currently in the Walters Art Museum as part of the Sondheim finalist competition.

Kambui Olujimi is a Brooklyn-native whose multi-disciplinary practice calls attention to the assumptions that underlie our understanding of the world at large. He has exhibited at MassMoca, North Adams, MA, MoMA PS1, New York, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Nebraska, Jack Shainman Gallery’s The School, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Apex Art, NY, Studio Museum in Harlem, CAM-Houston, and others. Kambui received a MFA from Columbia University in 2013 and has participated in residencies at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, FL, Queenspace, NY, Triangle Arts Association, Civitella Ranieri, Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, among others. His current exhibition “Zulu Time” at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art explores the interlocking systems of power and invisible hierarchies that impact our daily lives, most pervasively through time’s construction around the 0 degree prime meridian line originating at the British Naval Observatory in Greenwich, England - a residual imposition of power through the former Empire.

Kaveri Raina is a painter living in Chicago, IL. She was born and raised in New Delhi, India and moved to the States at the age of eleven. She received her MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2016 and her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2011. Raina has received awards and fellowships including the James Nelson Raymond fellowship, Fred and Joanna Lazarus Scholarship, amongst others. Raina’s work has been exhibited in the US, India and Germany. Raina will be attending the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in summer 2017.

Ato Ribeiro was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and spent the formative years of his life in Accra, Ghana. He has worked in a variety of media, including sculpture, installation art, drawing, and printmaking. His work has been exhibited at venues such as the Nubuke Foundation (Accra, Ghana), ABSA Gallery (Johannesburg, South Africa), the Mercedes-Benz Financial Services Headquarters (Farmington Hills, Michigan), The Ink Shop (Ithaca, New York), Agnes Scott College Dalton Gallery (Atlanta, Georgia), and most recently at the Cranbrook Art Museum (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan), and at the Detroit Artist Market Gallery (Detroit, Michigan). Ribeiro received his B.A. from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and is currently completing his M.F.A. in Print Media from Cranbrook Academy of Art.

Alex Yudzon was born in Moscow in 1977 and immigrated to Washington DC at the age of 8. The transition from one capital to another and the accompanying sense of displacement left a lasting impression that Yudzon continues to investigate to this day. After receiving a BFA in painting from the Chelsea College of Art in London, Yudzon settled in New York, where he developed a highly personal cross disciplinary artistic approach. Blurring the line between painting, photography and mixed media Yudzon’s variegated body of work points to our need for self invention within a constantly changing world. Alex Yudzon’s work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including at the Miami Museum of Contemporary Art and the Center for Global Justice in Mexico. Alex Yudzon lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Kambui Olujimi, "Fly Trap," 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

Kambui Olujimi, "Fly Trap," 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

Kambui Olujimi, "Fly Trap," 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

Kambui Olujimi, "Fly Trap," 2017. Photo: Tek Chung

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