Purple Art

[August 4 2016]

Nari Ward “Sun Splashed” at the Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

Originally showed at the Pérez Museum in Miami, Sun Splashed is a survey exhibition introducing the Jamaican born, Brooklyn based artist, Nari Ward. The show reveals how commodities can be deployed. At times antagonistic, at other baffling, Ward’s work yields new modes of regarding the function of materials and the ways in which they can be combined with one another.

Ward is a narrator of black identity, a connoisseur of street life, a flaneur, and a passionate explorer of discarded items found around the wastelands of urban neighborhoods. He subverts the purpose of everyday objects and derelict castaways of urban space by placing them in new contexts. As an example, in an abandoned and recycled liquor store’s neon sign,called Palace LiquorsouL he leaves only the letters of S O U L fluorescent while turning the others upside down,unlit. In a fundamental sense this way he aims to pinpoint the inherent associative link between ‘spirits’ and the ‘soul’ and the paradoxical link that ties them together – that alcohol has a Janus-faced social purpose as it can make or break the spirit of individuals or communities.

P.S. : One cannot help but question the originality of Ward’s practice since both the subjects and the techniques he uses seem to be deeply influenced, if not over-referenced, by that of artists such as David Hammons or Glenn Ligon.

Text Kinga Rajzak and photo Alexis Dahan

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