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It’s Thanksgiving, plus a pandemic. Check online before you go to a gallery this weekend. Many spaces have shortened their hours or are closed for the holiday.
Through Dec. 12. Paula Cooper Gallery, 524 West 26th Street, Manhattan; (212) 255-1155; paulacoopergallery.com.
I’m only a middling fan of Cecily Brown’s paintings, but she has stuck to her stylistic guns and respect is due. Her current show at Paula Cooper is one of her best — although my favorite remains an exhibition of small oil studies at Maccarone in 2015. Those works felt complete, but completeness is not necessarily a priority for Ms. Brown.
A deliberate confusion reigns in her larger, more ambitious canvases. Blizzards of brushwork usually in shades of pink fill her surfaces, through which recognizable motifs and fragments are intermittently visible: animal forms, nude models, the windows of a studio. This shifting ebb and flow is contrarian: It refuses the ideals of finish and skill, wreaking havoc with the gaze, especially the male one. The marks can bring to mind the female nudes of old master painting, blown to smithereens. They also have the allover quality of Abstract Expressionism, but its big, clear gestures are mocked by Ms. Brown’s many small brush strokes.
A frequent theme here is the grand still life of the Dutch Golden Age. Groaning boards covered in red recur, often with a pair of cat eyes glowering in the black beneath them, so do suggestions of strings of pearls and an occasional wine goblet. “The Splendid Table” (2019-2020) — a hulking triptych — can evoke a blood-soaked battle scene from a distance; up close blurry forms of freshly killed game emerge.
The best paintings here take distinct approaches to motif, suggestion and color: the ostensible still life of “Red and Dead,” the apparent woodland fantasy of “The Demon Menagerie” and the de Kooning-esque centrifuge of “When this kiss is over.” Their differences will be exciting to follow.
Through Dec. 19. Pace Gallery, 510 and 540 West 25th Street, Manhattan; 212-421-3292; pacegallery.com.
Sam Gilliam’s been making paintings for more than 60 years, most famously the huge, color-dappled canvases that he hangs, like heavenly curtains, unstretched. So it’s only natural that “Existed Existing,” his inaugural show at Pace, the first New York gallery ever to represent him, should extend across two buildings. It also includes three distinct bodies of work — a group of dapper wooden sculptures, a room full of glowing watercolor monochromes on giant squares of Japanese paper, and nearly a dozen enormous acrylics of varicolored snow, a few of which he’s named after Black public figures he admires like the congressman and civil rights pioneer John Lewis, who died this summer, and the poet Nikki Giovanni.
The acrylics are key, but I’d recommend starting with “Five Pyramids,” a single piece comprising five discrete wooden forms on rolling casters. Mr. Gilliam builds up these pyramids with layers of plywood, divided by thin aluminum pinstripes, and stains their faces deep purple, red, or blue. The execution is so sharp that the pieces strike the eye as flat, more like 2-D renderings than 3-D objects. But it’s a flatness more expansive than any notion you may have walked in with, one that makes the world seem much larger than you realized.
Once you’ve seen that, you’ll understand what the acrylics do to color, in every sense of the term. Their busy, buzzy surfaces, all texture and noise, blow apart any fixed ideas you started with, leaving you gaping at the sheer scale of what you’re looking at.
Through Dec. 5. Mitchell-Innes & Nash, 534 West 26th Street, Manhattan; 212-744-7400; miandn.com.
Many of the painted scenes in “Blue Boys Blues,” the Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah’s first solo show here, are inspired by his life in Accra, the country’s capital. There are nightclub revelers mid-cigarette. Homebodies lolling in underwear. But there are stranger sights, too: otherworldly vistas that have the larger-than-life feel of formative memories and the potent symbolism of dreams.
Unlike their Black counterparts in Mr. Appah’s more realistic portraits, these dreamscapes’ inhabitants are mostly greenish-blue, like the verdigris of weathered bronze. In this fictional cosmos, skin color doesn’t range between black and white. Rather, bodies turn from black to blue, as people move from the real world into mythic realms. Throughout, the artist’s loose painting style leads to nice moments of surprise. In “Teen Smoking on an Imaginary Street,” for example, unexpected traces of orange paint interweave with ocher brush strokes to portray the branches of a faraway sapling peeking between a palm tree’s half-desiccated fronds.
As galleries have started mounting a sustained attempt to give Black figurative painters the recognition they deserve, one worries that institutional zeal translates into something more detrimental behind the scenes: unfair pressure placed on these painters to stay the course, their own desires be damned. So it’s heartening to see Mr. Appah’s paintings wander widely. At one moment, he seems to be sampling the limbless torsos and barren horizon lines of European surrealist painters; at the next, he’s delving into childhood recollections. Memory has been a prominent theme in Mr. Appah’s work for a while now. That focus serves him especially well in 2020, with so much of the present world off limits.
Through Jan. 25. Sculpture Center, 44-19 Purves Street, Queens; 718-361-1750; sculpture-center.org.
“Consciousness is constantly mutating, moving from one state to another, and possibly back again,” the New York-based artist Tishan Hsu wrote in a catalog accompanying his exhibition at the Pat Hearn Gallery in 1986. How to represent these mutations in artistic form? Mr. Hsu did that with strange, gorgeous precision in about 30 sculptures, wall reliefs, drawings and other works made from 1980 to 2005 that you can see in “Liquid Circuit” at the Sculpture Center, the artist’s first museum survey exhibition.
Mr. Hsu trained as an architect at M.I.T., but he was also interested in artificial intelligence. The builder’s and technologist’s approach is apparent in “Liquid Circuit” (1987), an electric yellow wall relief with industrial handles that has waving lines painted in a dark field suggesting a spooky digital screen. “Vertical Ooze” (1987) is a powder-blue object that straddles the divide between biomorphic sculpture and a tiled industrial space or a science-fiction film set.
Mr. Hsu’s wall reliefs recall elements of Minimalism and ’80s Neo-Geo, like Ashley Bickerton’s sculptures. (Mr. Bickerton extended the concerns of Pop Art, however, by including product logos and references.) Mr. Hsu’s work is subtler, with flickers of surrealism, psychedelia and cybernetics. Mostly, however, they feel fresh and wildly prescient, predicting perfectly how consciousness has mutated even further in a digital and biotech age.
Through Dec. 6. James Fuentes, 55 Delancey Street, Manhattan; 212-577-1201. Online through Dec. 1; jamesfuentes.online.
The self-taught artist Purvis Young was nothing if not prolific. His output includes hundreds of paintings that he hung outdoors in Good Bread Alley in Miami’s Overtown neighborhood in the early 1970s; the roughly 3,000 pieces he sold to the collectors Don and Mera Rubell in 1999, the entire contents of his studio at the time; and the 1,884 artworks left behind when he died in 2010.
So James Fuentes’s exhibition, featuring 15 paintings online and 8 in the gallery, is a drop in the bucket — and not an especially strong conceptual one. But for those who haven’t seen much of Mr. Young’s art, it’s a welcome and gratifying introduction.
The gallery presentation better displays the textures of the scavenged objects on which he painted. In “untitled (MM 11324),” from 1974, strips of wood in different shapes form a frame decorated with wispy bodies that surrounds an image of a saintly, crying Black man. Recurring throughout the show, this theme of the individual in relation to the group is fitting for someone who worked alone intensely, yet was a notable public part of his disenfranchised community, which he brought to wider attention through his art.
The unjust dynamics of American society were never far from the mind of Mr. Young, who did a brief stint in prison as a teenager, for breaking and entering, and took inspiration from the protests and Black Arts Movement of the ’60s. In the most haunting piece here, “untitled (MM 11315),” 1973-4, eyes representing the establishment surround a prone, Black, bleeding body and a crowd of onlookers behind bars.
What comes through equally is the spiritual side of Mr. Young’s practice. Haloed figures, funeral processions, angels, and horses abound, creating the feeling that judgment is looming — but with it, the possibility of redemption.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
The raft of musicians who were snubbed by the 2021 Grammy Award nominations on Tuesday highlight the Recording Academy’s scattershot efforts at inclusion, say industry observers, pointing out that ironically, those snubs might have been inadvertently caused by the academy’s attempts to do the opposite.
“I was a little bit surprised by the dearth of albums by Black artists in the album of the year category,” said Jeremy Helligar, a journalist with the trade magazine Variety. The category is the most-coveted award of the night, and among the eight nominees — Jacob Collier, HAIM, Dua Lipa, Post Malone, Taylor Swift, Black Pumas and Jhené Aiko — only the last two include Black or biracial members.
Beyoncé’s anthem about Black pride, Black Parade, scored nine nominations, including song and record of the year, making her the leading contender and the second-most nominated act in the history of the awards show. But other high-performing albums were ignored in favour of those that largely went under the radar — most notably, Coldplay’s Everyday Life.
Music fans critiqued the Recording Academy, which hands out the awards, on Twitter for ignoring Lil Baby’s My Turn and Roddy Ricch’s Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial, both double-platinum albums.
Rapper Nicki Minaj also threw her support behind the two artists soon after the list was announced, reminding fans that she herself was ignored for best new artist in 2012 in place of “white man Bon Iver.”
“It’s like they try to embrace as diverse a group as they can to try to show that they’re thinking outside of the box,” Helligar said. “But by thinking outside of the box, they miss some of the obvious choices that are really worthy.”
Dropping ‘urban’ category not enough
One of the academy’s recent attempts to think outside of the box was the decision to drop the word “urban” from the “best urban contemporary album” category — now called “best progressive R&B album.”
Helligar has written about the decision, which he says seemed like a good-faith attempt to move away from a term that lumped Black musicians together regardless of genre but ended up being little more than lip service. It was also undercut by the continued use of the “urban” designation in Latin music categories.
Organizers also changed the best world music album to “best global music album” as “a departure from the connotations of colonialism.” This came among similar changes at other awards shows — such as the Oscars renaming best foreign language film to “best international feature film” and the Junos renaming the Indigenous album of the year to “Indigenous artist or group of the year” in late 2019.
“This is the year when the academy could have really made a statement about its support of Black music,” said Helligar.
But despite those efforts, Helligar says, the “hand-wringing” and the focus on categories in general by the Recording Academy could result in Black artists being lumped together once again — something he feared he saw evidence of in the best album category this year.
The Weeknd ignored
Music and culture journalist Gary Suarez, who has written for Vulture and other publications, says the academy’s focus on categories and genres, and its difficulty fully nailing them down, could have played a role in the passing over of other contenders.
For example, despite Canadian musician The Weeknd having produced one of the biggest albums of the year with After Hours, winning big at the American Music Awards and being named as the Super Bowl halftime performer, he didn’t receive a single Grammy nomination.
The singer responded to the snub Tuesday, writing: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…”
Suarez says the reason for the snub could be that The Weeknd’s music fits into so many different genres, including electronic, pop and R&B.
The academy’s concern with categories and genres, he says, can cause artists to fall through the cracks.
“The simple fact is that when you create these genre categories, you’re ghettoizing artists whether you intend to or not,” Suarez said. “It’s entirely possible that The Weeknd could have had his votes split in too many ways so that he didn’t make the long list.”
After the Weeknd called out the academy, Harvey Mason Jr., the academy’s interim president and CEO, released a statement explaining that, “unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artists.”
“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling,” Mason Jr. said.
A ‘silent hierarchy’ of decision makers
The concern over the academy’s decision making was echoed by Justin Bieber later Tuesday. The Canadian singer thanked the Grammys for putting his album Changes up for best pop vocal album but questioned why it was selected for the category.
“Changes was and is an R&B album,” Bieber wrote on Instagram.
“For this not to be put into that category feels weird considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style all the way down to the hip hop drums that were chosen it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!”
The apparent disconnect between the academy’s categories and how people listen to music, Saurez says, is only serving to further alienate fans from the industry.
“When you have artists who do the extraordinary things that we as listeners, as journalists celebrate artists for, but the institutions in the industry can’t find a home for them in their little boxes,” Suarez said, “then we have to ask ourselves: What does this industry serve? Who does this industry serve?”
Music journalist A. Harmony doesn’t think the Grammys are doing a good job of fixing that. In her view, the awards have a “silent hierarchy,” that determines what qualifies as “real music,” and people of colour are more often shut out of broader categories with universal appeal.
But, she said, the lack of recognition is hurting artists less now than in the past. As organizers continue to break away from what people are actually listening to, she says, people are paying less attention to who is nominated for the Grammys and who wins.
“It seems as though the consumer now is dictating what they like and what they want to listen to, and they seem to be a lot more inclusive and accepting of a wider range of artists than the Grammys,” said Harmony, who contributes to CBC’s q.
“So, I think if the Grammys don’t learn the lessons that they’re meant to learn soon, they will just fade into the abyss.”
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
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The Weeknd has accused the Grammys of being corrupt, after failing to receive any nomination for the 2021 awards.
The Canadian star had been expected to perform strongly, thanks to his number one album ‘After Hours’ and the hit single ‘Blinding Lights.’
“The Grammys remain corrupt,” he wrote on Twitter. “You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”
The Grammys said they “empathised” with his disappointment but that some “deserving” acts missed out every year.
‘After Hours’ is the biggest-selling album of the year so far in the United States (US), while Blinding Lights is the longest-running top 10 hit in US chart history.
The singer, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, recently won major prizes at the MTV VMAs and the American Awards, and will perform at the Super Bowl half-time show next February.
Several US media reports suggested he was locked out of the Grammys after weeks of discussions over a possible appearance at next January’s ceremony.
“There was an ultimatum given, resulting in a struggle over him also playing the Super Bowl, that went on for some time,” an unnamed source told Rolling Stone magazine. “[It] was eventually agreed upon that he would perform at both events.”
The head of the Recording Academy, which organises the awards, dismissed any suggestion that the star’s award nominations had been cancelled as a result of these negotiations.
“We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathise with what he’s feeling,” said Harvey Mason Jr.
“Unfortunately, every year, there are fewer nominations than the number of deserving artistes. To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process.”
Beyoncé led the nominations at this year’s Grammys – with nine in total. Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Roddy Ricch were close behind, with six each.
But The Weeknd wasn’t the only artiste to complain about the longlist.
Justin Bieber, whose album ‘Changes’ picked up three nominations in the pop field, complained that he had been miscategorised.
“Changes was and is an R&B album,” he wrote in a lengthy Instagram post. “It is not being acknowledged as an R&B album, which is very strange to me.
“I grew up admiring R&B music and wished to make a project that would embody that sound. For this not to be put into that category feels weird, considering from the chords to the melodies to the vocal style, all the way down to the hip-hop drums that were chosen, it is undeniably, unmistakably an R&B album!”
Grammy nominations are selected by experts in their respective genres – including singers, songwriters, producers and record label staff.
A screening committee considers thousands of applications to produce a shortlist, which is whittled down further by a nominations board.
This can result in some artistes falling through the cracks. It is possible that The Weeknd’s album was considered a pop record by the R&B committee and vice versa, locking him out of both categories.
Although the musician was the highest-profile snub at this year’s awards, plenty of other artistes walked away empty-handed, including this year’s Grammy host Alicia Keys, R&B musicians Summer Walker and Kehlani, and pop star Selena Gomez – whose ballad ‘Lose You To Love Me’ was considered a likely contender for the song of the year category.
Earlier this year, former Recording Academy president Deborah Dugan claimed the voting process was “a boys’ club” that was “ripe with corruption”.
The body announced several changes to its procedures after her accusations were made public.
‘Black music has never been respected’
However, it is the treatment of black artistes that has raised the most controversy in recent years.
No rap album has won album of the year since Outkast’s Speakerboxxx / The Love Below in 2004, despite hip-hop being the predominant genre in contemporary music.
Addressing a pre-Grammys gala in January, Diddy challenged the Academy to change its practices.
“Black music has never been respected by the Grammys,” said the rapper, who was receiving a lifetime achievement award.
Adding that the lack of diversity was a problem across the entire entertainment industry, he added: “For years we’ve allowed institutions that have never had our best interests at heart to judge us. And that stops right now.”
A night later, after winning best rap album at the Grammys ceremony, Tyler, the Creator accused the awards of relegating “guys that look like me” to the rap and urban categories.
“I don’t like that ‘urban’ word,” he added, “it’s just a politically correct way to say the n-word to me.”
In response, the Grammys changed the name of the best urban category to best progressive R&B.
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment
Hip-hop artist Sampa the Great called out the lack of diversity of the Australian music industry in general – and of the Australian Recording Industry Association (Aria) board in particular – during a highlight performance at the 2020 Aria awards, the industry’s biggest yearly event, which was broadcast on Wednesday night.
Tame Impala were the night’s big winners, taking home five trophies for their fourth album, The Slow Rush. But Sampa the Great, the next most successful, gave the night’s most talked about performance.
The vocalist – real name Sampa Tembo – won best female artist, best hip-hop release and best independent release for her first studio album, The Return. Her electrifying Aria performance of Final Form was filmed in Botswana, where she’s currently based, and opened with a few new lines: “Is it free, this industry, for people like me? Diversity, equity – in your Aria boards?” she rapped. “When we win awards, they toss us in the ad breaks of course.”
Tembo was ostensibly referring to the 2019 Arias, when she became the first woman of colour to win for best hip-hop. She called it “bittersweet” in a speech that didn’t make the 2019 broadcast: “I hope the Australian music industry starts to reflect what our community looks like,” she said at the time.
Accepting the Aria for best hip-hop artist on Wednesday, Tembo said the category meant a lot to her: “Hip-hop has been redefined in the last five, 10 years in Australia. Young black artists, young people of colour, keep doing what you’re doing, keep bringing the stories to the forefront, because now we get to see a side of Australia that was never shown.
“I’m sending all my love to black women in hip-hop. It often feels isolated and masculine. You can step into any genre, and be you. You can define genres.”
Held at the mostly empty Star Casino in Sydney, host Delta Goodrem had a tough task: to keep the energy up in a cavernous room, while throwing to mostly pre-recorded performances (including Billie Eilish, Sia and Sam Smith) and presenters (such as Robbie Williams, Mick Fleetwood and Kylie Minogue).
The most moving moment came from Indigenous Australian singer and community leader Archie Roach, who was inducted into the Aria hall of fame after four decades in the industry.
Roach, who has chronic lung disease, was breathing through a nasal cannula as he delivered a heartfelt performance of Took the Children Away, while seated on stage in a small theatre in his hometown of Warrnambool.
He was accompanied by a full band, backing singers and Paul Kelly, who co-produced Roach’s first album, Charcoal Lane – the 30th anniversary of which was celebrated this year.
Took the Children Away galvanised the Australian public when it was released in 1990, telling Roach’s story of being forcibly removed from his parents as it shone a light on the Stolen Generations.
“Having the strength to share his story, Uncle Arch gave us all strength too. Strength to be artists,” Indigenous hip-hop artist Briggs said, introducing Roach’s performance. “We stand on the shoulder of giants … and Uncle Arch is our champion.”
Kelly cried during Roach’s acceptance speech, in which Roach thanked him for being there from the beginning. (“I don’t mean when man finally walked on both legs – ‘and they called him Paul Kelly’,” he joked. “But from the beginning of my music recording career.”)
“They’re still as lethal looking as they ever were,” Roach said, regarding his new Aria trophy. “I’d hate to trip and fall on one. Thank you.”
Roach took home two more awards, for best male artist and best adult contemporary release for his album Tell Me Why, an accompaniment to his autobiography of the same name.
Tame Impala – the globally acclaimed project of Perth’s Kevin Parker – won five of their seven nominated categories, including album of the year, best group and best rock album. This takes the act’s total Aria tally to 13.
“Even if we only feel like a group properly when we’re playing live, when we’re playing live, I’m so proud of us,” said Parker, flanked by live band members Jay Watson and Cam Avery in a stream from a bar in Perth.
Later in the night, he accepted best rock album from Mick Fleetwood, who also appeared via video. “Playing rock and roll is a crazy thing in 2020,” Parker said. “It’s an interesting beast.”
The 2020 Arias was certainly surreal. The boozy, glamorous ceremony was replaced with a virtual one, with most winning artists broadcasted from small parties and living rooms around the world.
And instead of being shuttled into a media room, journalists covering the awards were invited to an online Zoom webinar hosted by Robbie Buck, who interviewed whichever winners logged on.
For those watching, the broadcast on Nine began with a rousing celebration of the Australian music industry as it pulls itself through a year of trauma, from rallying at fundraisers for victims of the bushfires to surviving the shutdown of the pandemic.
It ended with a tribute to Helen Reddy, the Australian singer of feminist anthem I Am Woman who died earlier this year. Amy Shark, Christine Anu, Delta Goodrem, Kate Ceberano, Marcia Hines and Tones and I were among those who performed on stage, or joined via video.
Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard introduced the performance, remembering first seeing Reddy perform as a young woman, and later at a rally – much older and just as inspiring.
“The power of purpose comes both with the vitality of youth and the experience of age,” Gillard said. “I want to acknowledge the strong women who have come before me, who stand beside me, and the ones I look forward to meeting … I hope they can have the freedom to take their place, to own their voice and to write their story without limits.”
Lime Cordiale, the Sydney brothers who led the nominations this year and won Triple J’s Australian album of the year last week, won just one of their eight categories, for breakthrough artist. Amy Shark won best pop release for Everybody Rise, a live performance of which opened the show; she was also publicly voted best live act.
Miiesha won in the soul/R&B category for Nyaaringu; TikTok sensation Dom Dolla won best dance release for San Frandisco; and Fanny Lumsden, the husband and wife duo who were nominated for seven Australian country music awards last week, won best country album for Fallow.
Aria awards – full winners list
Album of the year: Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Best male artist: Archie Roach – Tell Me Why
Best female artist: Sampa the Great – The Return
Best dance release: Dom Dolla – San Frandisco
Best group: Tame Impala
Breakthrough artist: Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps to a Better You
Best pop release: Amy Shark – Everybody Rise
Best hip-hop release: Sampa the Great – The Return
Best soul/R&B release: Miiesha – Nyaaringu
Best independent release: Sampa the Great – The Return
Best rock album: Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Best adult contemporary album: Archie Roach – Tell Me Why
Best country album: Fanny Lumsden – Fallow
Best hard rock/heavy metal album: King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Chunky Shrapnel
Best blues & roots album: The Teskey Brothers – Live at the Forum
Best children’s album: Teeny Tiny Stevies – Thoughtful Songs for Little People
Best comedy release: Anne Edmonds – What’s Wrong With You?
Best classical album: Richard Tognetti and Erin Helyard – Beethoven and Mozart Violin Sonatas
Best jazz album: Paul Kelly and Paul Grabowsky – Please Leave Your Light On
Best original soundtrack or musical theatre cast album: Chelsea Cullen – I Am Woman (OST)
Best world music album: Joseph Tawadros – Live at the Sydney Opera House
Best cover art: Adam Dal Pozzo, Megan Washington and Michelle Pitiris – Washington’s Batflowers
Engineer of the year: Kevin Parker – Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush
Producer of the year: Kevin Parker – Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush
Best video: Guy Sebastian – Standing With You
Best live act: Amy Shark
Song of the year: 5 Seconds of Summer – Teeth
Best international artist: Harry Styles – Fine Line
Music teacher award: Sarah Donnelly, from Wilcannia Central School
RankTribe™ Black Business Directory News – Arts & Entertainment