Monique Meloche Gallery presents “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. The exhibition will be on view from September 14 through October 28, 2023, at the gallery located at 451 N Paulina Street, Chicago.
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.
Public installation in Newark
The Newark Museum of Art will debut Sanford Biggers’ latest outdoor installation, Apollo (Diptych), 2023 this fall. Part of Biggers’ “Chimeras” series this artwork features two 3-foot black and white marble sculptures flanking the Museum’s main entrance at 49 Washington Street. Both sculptures depict a unique interpretation of the Classical Greek god Apollo wearing a large mask derived from African sources.
Acquired this year by the Museum, Apollo (Diptych) will be on long-term display. A date for the unveiling will be announced shortly.
About Sanford Biggers
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970) was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives and works in New York City.
Biggers has been honored for his work with awards, fellowships, and public installations.
In February 2023, he was honored by Morehouse College with the 2023 Bennie Achievement Award. In 2022, he was honored for his achievements by the Art Production Fund, Orange County Museum of Art and Studio Museum in Harlem’s Lea K. Green Memorial. In 2021, he was the recipient of the 26th Heinz Award for the Arts; Savannah College of Art & Design’s deFINE Art Award; and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor and Scholar in the Department of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA.