new-york

Jessica Vaughn, Learning From the Work of Others (detail), 2017, ink-jet prints, photocopy, Plexiglas, 76 × 48".

Jessica Vaughn

Martos Gallery | New York

Jessica Vaughn, Learning From the Work of Others (detail), 2017, ink-jet prints, photocopy, Plexiglas, 76 × 48".

In his book 1971: A Year in the Life of Color, 2016, Darby English adopts the term representationalism to critique the tendency among scholars to analyze the abstract paintings of black artists by seeking out coded affirmations of racial identity—relating, for instance, the layered compositions of Joe Overstreet to the hair weaves at his mother’s beauty salon, or characterizing Ed Clark’s use of a broom to spread acrylic over his canvases as an homage to janitors. This tendency, English contends, foists onto abstraction precisely the sort of static definitions it aims to elude. This past summer, representationalism came to mind as a potential objection to “Invisible Man,” the group exhibition that inaugurated Martos Gallery’s downtown location and that was curated by its director, Ebony L. Haynes. The nod to Ralph Ellison in the exhibition’s title bore the implicit claim that

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