Critics’ Picks

Ayana V. Jackson, Judgment of Paris, 2018, ink-jet print, 40 × 60".

Ayana V. Jackson, Judgment of Paris, 2018, ink-jet print, 40 × 60".


“J’ai Deux Amours...”

Mariane Ibrahim Paris
18, avenue Matignon
September 18–October 13, 2021

Ahead of her Chicago gallery’s ten-year anniversary, Mariane Ibrahim has opened a European outpost on the murderer’s row of Avenue Matignon—alongside Emmanuel Perrotin, Kamel Mennour, Almine Rech—in a polished space formerly occupied by a concept store. The exhibition’s title, which references a Josephine Baker song, articulates both the richness and the turmoil of identifying with multiple cultures and territories, touching on how uprootedness shapes artistic perspective in a manner that transcends any one locus. Recent work by fifteen artists engages with the legacy of the African diaspora by way of the body and portraiture (barring the inclusion of Sergio Lucena’s pure blue canvas; a puzzling outlier).

The emphasis on figuration offers a sensuality fitting to a city so associated with somatic pleasures. In the foyer, Amoako Boafo’s oil on canvas Touching Heads, 2020—a painting of two Black women leaning comfortably into each other—opens the show with a tender feeling of community. Upstairs, Boafo’s oil painting of a casually squatting young man with an unflinching gaze hangs alongside a bright two-pannel Shannon T. Lewis work that jarringly crops the bodies of two Black women. The predominance of painting is offset by other media: Ayana V. Jackson’s Judgement of Paris, 2018, an archival pigment print featuring three Black women reclining in a sylvan setting, and Maimouna Guerresi’s eerie installation Iman with Balloon Sack, 2021, a ceiling-suspended resin bust and a floating white plastic bag. Couched within a cultural landscape so dominated by the white European canon, the display of Black figures depicted at the hands Black artists is inspiriting and apropos for a moment in which we review and correct representative absences.