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James Terrell: Transcendence: Beyond the Terrestrial Plane

January 4, 2023 - April 16, 2023

James Terrell: Transcendence: Beyond the Terrestrial Plane
January 4, – April 16, 2023

Portraits have long served an important position in art history. Before the invention of the camera, this was the primary means of capturing the power, importance, virtue, beauty, wealth, taste, learning or other qualities of the sitter. James Terrell’s collaged portraiture expands on these themes by introducing a world of color. This D.C. artist extends the Washington Color School into our modern era.

Joy and Sorrow, much like a blues song, are present in the figures. Color tells the story of each individual, while the shapes disorient. There is some Op Art at play as well. So while, the work shares a few moments with Washington greats like Alma Thomas, it also subtly mixes in the history of Bridget Riley. All under the cloak of African-American quilt work.

The work of James Terrell’s collages invite us into a culture of fashion and musicality. The lines in every piece seem to lock together like sheet music, or power lines, carrying electricity, carrying the human spirit. All of the lines and colors are informed by the predecessors in the art worlds Terrell criss-crosses. From collage, to portraiture, op art to color theory, these figurative works are boiling with fun and vibrance.

Viewing Terrell’s work is an experience in the subconscious. At once, we think we are seeing a quilt, but also one of Magritte’s famous bowlers. The imprint is sunk deep. But at the same time we are seeing the personal imagination of one of our contemporary’s living a musical life in the Capitol of America. It all comes together to embody the human spirit. Standing in front of each piece, we see portions of our own selves represented, through line and color.

This maximalist vision of the world is an amalgamation of inputs. Yet it seems to circumvent much of this online reality we inhabit now. It is fully grounded in the tangible, the here and now. At the end of it all, it is a portrait, a figurative representation of people. Of us. Of history.

Exhibition Opening Event January 5, 2023 5:30-7:30pm
This is a free all ages event. Registration requested but not required

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