About the Exhibit - The Heat Lets us Know We're Alive
On January 15th, 2020, Vaughn Spann’s first exhibit with Almine Rech Gallery in New York, The Heat Lets us Know We're Alive, opened. With this exhibit of abstract and figurative paintings, Vaughn explores the concept of language, and how to express oneself through a finite amount of symbols. His “X” series, in particular, is inspired by his experiences of racial profiling.
“I was walking home from studying at a friend’s house. Cops pulled me over. Four other cop cars come by. They put me against a gate, and my hands are up, split. That same gesture echoes the X. And, for me, that’s such a symbolic form, and so powerful to this contemporary moment, that I formally needed to figure out the components of that.” - Vaughn Spann (source)
Spann approaches all of his work through the lens of his experiences as a Black man, and an American.
“Spann’s recent “Dalmatian” series, large-scale abstract canvases made up of black-and-white splotches, are a mediation on his New Jersey childhood where the aggressive guard dogs in his neighborhood were never the firehouse Dalmatians you see in the movies. “They became a symbol of the false American dream,” says Spann” - Galerie Magazine (source)
“The first substantial figurative painting I made from that series was a two-headed painting called, "I grew an extra head to watch over my brother." I felt that idea on the poetics or the metaphor was so powerful, especially when, for example, black men are being killed on the streets by police. Or on the other side, we have violence within our own community. Every which way you think about the black body, it's the body that's disposable, dispensable. It can be taken away or removed. So I thought about the poetics between the idea of having a second head to be vigilant. To watch over yourself, take self-care.” - Vaughn Spann (source)
“My practice is a bit conceptual, and it oscillates between figuration and abstraction because I'm interested in these stylistic separations and distinct breaks. As artists, we're human. We have complicated ideas about everything. And I feel it would be a disservice to limit those ideas to one framework.” - Vaughn Spann (source)
About the Artist - Vaughn Spann
Vaughn Spann lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut.
Although he started school studying biology, he took a hard pivot and ultimately received a BFA from Rutgers University in 2014 and an MFA from Yale School of Art in 2018.
“Since graduating from Yale’s MFA program in 2018, Spann has had a sold-out solo show at Half Gallery in New York as well as exhibitions at Almine Rech in London, Night Gallery in Los Angeles, and Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo.” - Galerie Magazine (source)
“From my first visit to Vaughn’s studio, I was immediately impressed, his unconventional narratives challenge the viewer by defying singular interpretations.” - Almine Rech-Picasso (source)
Vaughn is represented by Almine Rech Gallery.
High Snobiety - How Vaughn Spann Became the Art World’s New Favorite Painter
Juxtapoz Magazine - The Rising Star: Vaughn Spann Has Arrived