Gary Simmons: Remembering Tomorrow

17 Feb – 22 May 2022

Los Angeles

Explore the exhibition

Gary Simmons’ first exhibition with Hauser & Wirth debuts new paintings, wall drawings, and sculpture, as well as the installation ‘Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark.’ Drawn from both personal and collective memory, his works address themes of race, identity, politics, and social inequality, and the ways in which these issues are both evident and concealed in the cultural landscape.

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Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark

On view in the gallery’s courtyard, ‘Recapturing Memories of the Black Ark’ is a work created from amalgamated materials sourced from the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Inspired by the studio of legendary Jamaican record producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, this sculptural installation will be the site of numerous activations throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Register here for Black Ark programming
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‘Remembering Tomorrow’ foregrounds Simmons’ distinctive contributions to contemporary image making, particularly through his use of erasure as a form of Action Painting freighted with deep cultural significance. Simmons wipes the surface of his work while the paint is still wet in order to smear the image so that it simultaneously emerges and disappears. This tactic is central to the new paintings on view, in which Simmons presents the viewer with racialized imagery once prevalent in American popular culture, including such archetypical cartoon characters as Honey and Bosko.

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The exhibition includes four massive wall drawings created onsite that also employ the artist’s erasure technique and feature similar motifs as those found in the paintings. Their fragile surfaces, achieved through either inky black paint or dusty chalk, highlight Simmons’ technical prowess and ability to capture the poignancy of time’s passage: by retaining the lasting gestural marks of his working process and physical presence in the space, these drawings hint at their own ephemeral nature and the transience of memory.

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Revisiting motifs found in his early works, Simmons reconsiders the aesthetic possibilities of public school cafeteria tables in ‘You Can Paint Over Me But I’ll Still Be Here,’ a new sculptural installation. The work is comprised of five tables arranged in dynamic configurations with groups of figures representing racist tropes from historic cartoons. In this work, Simmons establishes the school lunchroom as analog for society at large – a site where a distinct social hierarchy reigns and identity is shaped and performed.

About the artist

Gary Simmons uses icons and stereotypes of American popular culture to create works that address personal and collective experiences of race and class. Simmons’ use of pedagogical motifs led to the formal and aesthetic breakthrough that would inform much of his subsequent work, in which erasure of the image has been a powerful and recurring theme.

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Inquire about available works by Gary Simmons