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"Power" and "Signifying Form"
at Spruth Magers (to 6/10) and The Landing (to 7/1), Los Angeles, California
by Jody Zellen

“Power” installation view at Spruth Magers, 2017

"Power" and "Signifying Form" feature the work of African American women. While "Power" (curated by Todd Levin) is more comprehensive, with over 100 artworks by 37 artists, and traces a wide range of approaches, aesthetics and media — from quilts to video projections — from formal to the political content. The exhibition also includes an installation of African American vernacular photographs on loan from the Ralph DeLuca collection. The nine artists included in "Signifying Form" (curated by Jill Moniz) focuses specifically on those working in Los Angeles from 1935-2015, with its emphasis on narrative sculpture. Just four between the two groups, Elizabeth Catlett, Senga Nengudi, Betye Saar and Brenna Youngblood, have works in both exhibitions. It is interesting to think about why, as well as where they fall in the show's timelines. "Power" and "Signifying Form" are both informative and engaging exhibitions that open a dialogue addressing the aesthetics of race and gender in connection to style and artistic motivations. The time frame proposes a historical trajectory that runs parallel to broad social developments. Given that integral to the exhibitions are issues of power, struggle, race, family and motherhood, mapping the influences and relationships among the artists deepens our grasp of both the social and aesthetic poles.

Sprüth Magers

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