Sep 14th 2023

moniquemeloche is pleased to announce Sanford Biggers: Back to the Stars, the artist’s fourth solo presentation with the gallery. The exhibition showcases new artworks from his ever-evolving Chimera and Codex series, which juxtaposes figurative marble sculptures and quilt compositions. Biggers’ practice brings aesthetic, poetic, and social insights to the intertwining stories embedded in material culture. His creative processes recognize and conflate syncretic impulses between aesthetic expressions from seemingly disparate societies and histories, transforming them into rigorously formal and conceptual artworks.

Biggers’ Chimera sculptures combine various African and European masks, busts, and figures that explore historical depictions of the body and their subsequent myths, narratives, archetypes, perceptions, and power. Back to the Stars will feature two new cast marble busts adorned and enigmatically veiled with hand-painted elements. Biggers’ polychromatic intervention disrupts the historically revered iconic white marble canon, questioning the nature of authenticity, authority, and origin just as early 20th-century documentation of African objects were “blackwashed” or memorialized without their original paint and raffia decoration restored. Intrigued by recent scholarship on the historical “whitewashing” of classical Greco-Roman sculpture and its convergence with the “blackwashing” of various African sculptural objects in the early twentieth century, Biggers revitalizes the ancient tradition of polychromy and challenges the associated cultural and aesthetic assumptions connected to the source materials while acknowledging the often inconsistent provenances of these objects.

The marbles will be shown alongside a new work in his kaleidoscopic Codex series-a large-scale quiltwork composed from stitched geometric swatches stretched across a plywood armature to form a three-dimensional object that resembles folded paper. These origami-like quilts map a constellation of references from Japanese woodblock prints to Gee’s Bend quilts, from Duchamp ready-mades to signposts on the Underground Railroad. Having collected quilts over the course of many years, in this series Biggers’ aesthetic considerations of palette and pattern illuminate conceptual considerations of syncretism and appropriation.

Back to the Stars rejects fixed narratives of quilt and marble traditions. Instead, Biggers’ new works gracefully traverse the intricate layers woven into their composition, embracing the balance between the masculine and feminine, resilience and fragility, eternal and ephemeral. Through this nuanced and conceptual patchwork, the artist ushers his practice into the future, revealing the inherent essence of each piece as it harmonizes with the passage of time.

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