Hauser & Wirth presents Jack Whitten’s first-ever solo exhibition in London and the gallery’s inaugural project with the artist in the United Kingdom. Whitten is an American abstract painter celebrated for his innovative transfiguration of paint in works equally alert to materiality, politics and metaphysics. Mentored by both Willem de Kooning and Norman Lewis, with a career spanning five decades Whitten holds a unique place in the narrative of postwar American art.
‘More Dimensions Than You Know: Jack Whitten, 1979 – 1989’ opens Tuesday 26 September 2017, 6 – 8 pm at Hauser & Wirth London. Whitten’s work is a focus of ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’, on view at Tate Modern until 22 October 2017.
Uniting Whitten’s work from the period 1979 – 1989 is a process analogous to electronic imaging and photography. Inspired by photographic technology of the time – cathode-ray scanning, radar, electron microscopy – he conceived of his painting as a process of transmission, channelling the subjective qualities of a person, spirit or sense of time and place, through a coded repeatable unit. Hence, we see the dedication of certain works to notable figures, such as novelist James Baldwin and artists Norman Lewis or Andy Warhol. –
Whitten articulates his approach to abstraction in photographic terms, saying, ‘I maintain that abstraction is a symbol. It’s very much like holding a camera. I can direct it toward any symbol that I choose. As a painter, I have to locate that symbol in the paint, as opposed to giving an illustrated narrative. The narrative content and the figure are still in there – they’re built into the paint’.
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Jack Whitten, Ode To Andy: For Andy Warhol, 1986
© Jack Whitten Photo: Genevieve Hanson