As a prelude of sorts to Nari Ward’s mid-career retrospective opening at the Pérez Art Museum Miami next month, the Jamaican-born artist is exhibiting three of his “Breathing Panels”; a large-scale floor sculpture made of 702 copper-clad bricks; and Spellbound, an upright piano decorated with keys, a moody film shown on its backside. (Several of the works will be included in the PAMM show.) Most mesmerizing are the “Breathing Panels.” Ward used a circular puncturing tool to stamp out a diamond shape based on Congolese cosmograms into each 8-by-10-foot copper sheet (he learned about these symbols at a Baptist church, which cut similar shapes into their floorboards to allow slaves, escaping via the Underground Railroad, to breathe). The panels are further marred by the artists footsteps, as well as clusters of hammered-in nails and incised lines that reflect light like a spider web.
Pictured: Nari Ward: Breathing Panel: Oriented Center, 2015, oak wood, copper sheet, copper nails, darkening patina, in two parts, each 48 by 120 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo Elisabeth Bernstein.