Devan Shimoyama: We Named Her Gladys

Saturday, Mar 23 – May 25, 2019

835 W. Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607

On view at 835 W. Washington Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607

Kavi Gupta is pleased to present its first solo exhibition of new work by Devan Shimoyama, who recently debuted his inaugural museum exhibition Cry, Babyat The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA. 2019. In Cry, Baby new and existing works by Shimoyama are juxtaposed along with a rotating selection of Warhol’s “Ladies and Gentlemen” paintings from the 1970s. This juxtaposition offers a unique opportunity not only to interrogate the conversation between these two artists’ work but also to consider generational evolutions in the realm of how issues related to gender, sexuality, race, and violence are portrayed in contemporary art

Shimoyama, born in 1989 in Philadelphia, PA, is a visual artist whose work explores depictions of the black, queer, male body. Though he sometimes employs a variety of other mediums, Shimoyama primarily focuses on painting, specifically the genre of portraiture. His compositions are inspired by those of classical painters of the past, such as Francisco Goya, or Caravaggio. However, his use of materials is distinctly contemporary, as is the particular subject matter he depicts.

Shimoyama has stated that he wants the figures in his work are perceived as “both desirable and desirous.” He is aware of the politics of queer culture, and the ways in which those politics relate to black American culture. These elements come together in his works in a way that is both celebratory and complicated.

The celebratory aspects of Shimoyama’s work come through in his choice of materials. Employing such things as fur, feathers, glitter and costume jewels like rhinestones, and sequins, he brings shine and dimensionality to his surfaces. These materials add to the sense that the figures in the works possess a sort of magical aura and joyful spirit. Yet so many of the men in Shimoyama’s works also literally have jewels in their eyes, endowing them with a mystified, often vacant expression, interrupting the connection between their inner selves and the viewer, and suggesting a sort of silent suffering. Many are also shedding tears.

Shimoyama graduated from Penn State University in 2011 with a BFA in Drawing/Painting before going on to obtain his MFA at Yale University School of Art in 2014. During his time at Yale, Shimoyama was awarded the Al Held Fellowship. Since graduating Yale he has had residencies at Fire Island Artist Residency in 2015, the La Brea Studio Artist Residency in 2017, and most recently The Fountainhead Residency in 2018. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. -KGG


Image: Devan Shimoyama, Smoke and Sage, 2018