Critics’ Picks

View of “Allegiances and Convictions,” 2019.

View of “Allegiances and Convictions,” 2019.

Los Angeles

June Edmonds

Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
1110 Mateo St.
May 11–June 15, 2019

Jasper Johns famously attributed the origin of his iconic painting of the American flag to a vision he had at night; likewise, June Edmonds arrived at her first stroke-by-stroke reconstitution of a flag through a dream she had in 2017, after she returned to her home town of Los Angeles from a residency in Paducah, Kentucky. In her case, though, it wasn't about the same stars and stripes; during her residency, while driving to Memphis, she had seen a wall-size Confederate flag—a looming, unapologetic beacon still standing on the Southern hillside—to which she later responded in a series of paintings. That body of work is now part of “Allegiances and Convictions,” Edmonds’s first show at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Made of thick, wet-looking bands of acrylic, many in brown skin tones, set into columns that redouble the orientation of their vertical supports, Edmonds’s “Flag Paintings,” 2017–, relate to her earlier Primary Theories, 2016, for which she conjured a range of browns amid tesserae-like units of other colors. The obdurate, overwhelmingly material pieces here line the walls like so many darkly reflective monuments to the episodes of American history—people and events—referenced in the titles (such as Claudette Colvin Flag, 2019, after the civil rights activist who refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama).

A few unstretched paintings are also on view, hanging like Sam Gilliam’s fabric garlands, mourning alongside, and perhaps in solidarity with, the flags. Together, the works seem to be both registers of another time and heralds of recurring histories—most emphatically so with Case for Reparations Flag, 2019.