Howardena Pindell, A Renewed Language begins with abstract paintings and works on paper from the 1970s which map the development of her distinctive, process-driven abstraction. Embellishing the language of minimalism – of circles, grids, tallies and repetition – in a visibly laborious process of hole-punching, spraying, cutting, sewing, and numbering, Pindell creates works with complex and sumptuous material surfaces.
In the 1980s, this abstract language shifts into a different gear, with works taking on a more overtly political tenor. Often collaging text into her surfaces, Pindell creates art that deals with issues including enslavement, violence against indigenous populations, police brutality, the AIDS crisis and climate change. Alongside the paintings and works on paper, the exhibition includes two videos that frame a long career – Free, White and 21 (1980) and Rope/Fire/Water (2020). These works tackle the pervasiveness of racial inequality, drawing on Pindell’s own experiences and also on her collation of historical data relating to segregation, discrimination and race-based violence in America.
The exhibition presents brand new works from her 2022 New York solo exhibition which shows Pindell circling back to some of her concerns and methods of the early 1970s and 80s. Returning to her method of painting using a stencil, she has produced fresh new work that quotes from work made half a century ago. With the inventiveness of her material processes, the beauty of her abstraction and the acuity of her political voice, Pindell makes work that is variously balm and clarion call in a world that needs both.
This exhibition has its origins in Howardena Pindell: A New Language, organised by the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh in collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and Spike Island, Bristol.
Image: Howardena Pindell, Plankton Lace #1, 2020
Mixed media on canvas
Courtesy the artist, Garth Greenan Gallery and Victoria Miro.