The Old Becomes The New

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Patrick Brennan reviews the recent exhibition The Old Becomes The New: New York Contemporary Native American Art Movement And The New York School at Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, New York.

Brennan writes: "There are lateral and reciprocal relations between the New York School and these contemporary Native artists. American artists of comparatively recent European origin, each seeking a language for one’s own voice and experience, had to listen for the pulses of their Turtle Island home. Many, as were Will Barnet, the Indian space painters, Pollock, Gottlieb and Rothko, responsive to the homologies between their evolving abstract and iconographic syntaxes and the precedents already long applied by Native artists … G. Peter Jemison takes advantage of visual art’s capacity to collapse multiple associations within an image in a way the linearity of language can barely deliver. To the left is what looks like concentric tree rings in blue river water lined around an almost blood red silhouette map of the island. To the right seems an English green, eerily empty and disembodied, where a rabbit pauses in the foreground within clear view of a perambulating wolf off a ways to the back. Directly behind the wolf, as if seen from New Jersey, rises the old World Trade Center. Predation regards live fur through business as usual while the painting still remembers yet another way."

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