Gary Simmons' first one-person exhibition at Metro Pictures opens the 1993/94 season on Saturday, September 18. The show continues through October 23.
Simmons is primarily known for his politically symbolic sculpture and for his chalkboard drawings of racial stereotyped cartoon-like characters erased to near abstraction. For his Metro Pictures exhibition, Simmons departs from his previous work to present an extensive painting/photographic project. On exhibition will be 13 large paintings, approximately 850 Polaroid photographs taken at locations in Bedford-Stuyvesant and Harlem, and ten large-scale photographs made in Simmons' studio.
The photographs were all taken in front of the paintings that depict emblematic graphics such as a target scope similar to a crosshair of a gun or phrases like Ill Street Blues which merges a Hip-Hop title with the logo of a police department. The Polaroids are of individuals and groups of passersby and are not only individual portraits that represent the subjects' view of themselves but communal portraits representing a time, place and collective presence. In contrast, these studio shots are pre-arranged "sittings" of acquaintances invited to select a backdrop to pose in front of. Their portraits are more intensely concentrated and personally controlled. During the exhibition, Simmons will invite gallery visitors to pose for photographs in front of the paintings on exhibition.
Gary Simmons studied at the School of Visual Arts and at Cal Arts until 1989. He now lives and works in New York. His work was included in the 1993 Whitney Biennial and in Dissent, Difference and the Body Politic at the Portland Museum of Art, an exhibition organized by Simon Watson. In 1992, the Whitney Museum at Philipp Morris exhibited Garden of Hate, an indoor garden in which Simmons has planted the shape of a white cross thus juxtaposed the beauty of the flowers with the terrors of the Ku Klux Klan. In collaboration with the poet Franklin Sirmans, Simmons had his first show in Paris at Galerie Philippe Rizzo.
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