Reyes | Finn is pleased to present IMPRESSED, an exhibition of new work by Detroit-born, New York-based artist, LaKela Brown, on view September 2nd–October 16th, 2021. In her second solo exhibition and fifth presentation with Reyes | Finn, the artist will unveil her largest plaster reliefs to date—produced while in residence at Popps Packing (Detroit, MI)—and debut a new series of embossed handmade paperworks, made in collaboration with acclaimed papermaking studio, Dieu Donné (Brooklyn, NY).
The exhibition is grounded in Brown’s sculptural relief works, which collapse an expanse of cultural and personal memories into the intimate present. Though often compared to ancient art forms and methods of communication such as Egyptian hieroglyphic wall carvings or Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, Brown sees each work as a tender document of contemporary life. In her series of bas-reliefs and intaglios, Brown delicately poses door-knocker hoop earrings, rope chain necklaces, and chicken heads in compositions that range from methodically organized to chaotic abstractions that have been frozen in time—transfigured into symbols that powerfully reckon with historical representations of Black women. “Beyond the work’s escalation in scale, LaKela’s new works are simultaneously intimate portraits and visual love letters to her subject. The rich plaster casts suggest the adoration of her subject, the figure implied but not present. Representations of intimate, personal objects project from and sink into creamy plaster surfaces,” says Reyes | Finn Co-Founder and Partner, Bridget Finn. "While I come from a traditional figurative sculpture background, this work has led me to remove the figure and shift the focus from (the uses of) Black women’s bodies, toward acknowledging the cultural contributions of Black women. There is power in that removal," says Brown. While each wall-bound sculpture provides a bit of insight into the subject’s perceived identity, the artist intentionally withholds much of the body itself. As the artist notes, “still lifes have never been neutral,” they organize a reality envisioned by the maker.
In a material departure, Brown debuts a new series of embossed paperworks made in collaboration with acclaimed papermaking studio, Dieu Donné (Brooklyn, NY). Stemming from the artist’s explorations in plaster, the embossings are delicate compositions of door-knocker hoop earrings that have been recessed into handmade cotton paper. “The artist’s paper impressions share the love-letter quality of her plaster works—they exist full of material and compositional polarities," notes Finn. "Grids of neatly organized hoop earrings oppose sheets of irregular groupings that appear to be falling off the page. Here, the hoop earring triumphs, cleverly subverting conceptions of value, taste and wealth.”