Los Angeles

Glenn Ligon

Regen Projects

In his newest suite of paintings, titled “Figure” (echoing his 2001 self-portrait series of the same name), Glenn Ligon continues his formal investigation of James Baldwin’s 1953 essay “Stranger in the Village,” a searching analysis of the author’s experience of extreme estrangement and isolation as the only black man living in a remote Swiss village. The new paintings further Ligon’s continual, laborious reading and rereading of the self through the language of another. He bases all twenty canvases on his own 2002 painting Masquerade—a nearly illegible rendering of a page from Baldwin’s text, in which the author describes the village’s disturbing practice of raising communal funds to buy “African natives for the purpose of converting them to Christianity.” Ligon, going “off book,” as the exhibition title has it, quotes himself quoting Baldwin, and the double mediation that results degrades

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