June 5, 2020

Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery

Vaughn Spann’s abstract and figurative works are subtle manifestations of deeper musings Spann has as a Black American man.
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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.

Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
“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
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery

Spann approaches all of his work through the lens of his experiences as a Black man, and an American. 

Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
“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
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
“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
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
“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
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery

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
Vaughn Spann at Almine Rech Gallery
“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 Spann at Almine Rech Gallery

Vaughn is represented by Almine Rech Gallery. 

Vaughn is a Studio Fellow at NXTHVN, the New Haven nonprofit arts incubator co-founded by his mentor, artist Titus Kaphar. If you’d like to support it, please donate here

Articles 

High Snobiety - How Vaughn Spann Became the Art World’s New Favorite Painter

Juxtapoz Magazine - The Rising Star: Vaughn Spann Has Arrived

Cool Hunting - VAUGHN SPANN’S DYNAMIC “THE HEAT LETS US KNOW WE’RE ALIVE” EXHIBIT AT ALMINE RECH


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