For ‘Flash Art’ Magazine
‘New Wave,’ a group show curated by Franklin Sirmans, inaugurated Kravets/Wehby’s new gallery space last December. Still located on the same block of 21st Street in Chelsea, the formerly closet-like space has given way to a gallery big enough to accommodate large paintings by emerging artist Kehinde Wiley and expansive work on paper by William Cordova. Five other young artists with an urban sensibility rounded off what seemed like a mini-spin off of Sirman’s popular ‘One Planet Under a Groove’ exhibition at the Bronx Museum last year. Paying homage to an influential exhibition at PS1 in 1981, the show presented artwork indebted to hip hop music and culture with a focus on portraits. Iona Brown’s painting on a Japanese screen of a half Asian, half African woman with Louis Vuitton logos stamped across her skin complimented Kehinde Wiley’s painting of young man nearly swallowed up by his over inflated puffer jacket. Jeff Sonhouse painted two sharply dressed men whose faces, clothing and hair were created out of burnt matchsticks. Sanford Biggers altered an old army recruitment sign, one of the first to feature an African-American man, to read as a statement of inclusion and exclusion, while pieces by William Cordova and Luis Gispert speak to a fascination with boomboxes and turntables, the instruments of DJ culture. Set to the beat of a sound installation by DL Language/Josh Taylor, the exhibition smartly mixed admiration of and critique of hip hop culture.