Art In America

Emma Amos

at Ryan Lee,
515 West 26th Street

This exhibition of Emma Amos’s paintings from the 1980s, which explore the representation of black bodies and painting modes traditionally embraced by white male artists, strike a contemporary cord. In her “Athletes and Animals” series (1983-85), dynamic basketball players, swimmers, and runners compete alongside majestic large cats and primates. Dispelling any evocation of racial sterotypes, Amos’s Josephine and the Mountain Gorillas (1985) pictures the artist’s apparent avatar, the famed entertainer and activist Josephine Baker, as she breaks through an Ab-Ex ground with two loyal gorillas following in her wake. The show, titled “True Colors,” mines many prescient sociopolitical issues, and Amos’s engagement with textiles, often hand-woven, yields exuberant paintings that are political, personal and triumphantly out of the margins.—Julia Wolkoff 

 

Pictured: Emma Amos: Josephine and the Mountain Gorillas, 1985, acrylic and hand woven fabric on linen, 48 by 90 inches. Courtesy Ryan Lee Gallery, New York. 

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