Jimmy Wright: Down HomeOpening: Friday, Mar 17, 2023 6 – 8 pm
Friday, Mar 17 – Apr 29, 2023
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2156 West Fulton St.
Chicago, IL 60612
March 17 – April 29, 2023
In the late 1980s, working at the Lower East Side Print Shop near his home in Manhattan, Jimmy Wright created a series of monotypes based on tintypes and other early photographs of his family and their rural Kentucky environs. Wright settled in New York in the early 1970s and spent that decade drawing from scenes he witnessed in the city's underground gay clubs and bathhouses. The buttoned-up scenes of his ‘80s prints were the exact converse of those explicit drawings, exchanging an everything-bared sexuality for the deeply repressed carnal energies of a strictly religious upbringing. But this converseness turns out to be a kind of complementarity, the overt and the covert as two sides of the same Kentucky coin. Evoking and interrogating the nostalgic quality of family pictures, Wright made use of theme and variation, putting the haunting portraits through a series of modulations—shifting colors, always pale and washy, almost disappearing in front of our eyes, like the Wright family's version of the agrarian south. Some of the works utilize inset cameos, compiling different portraits and scenes into composite images, like family albums, while others gently retouch the delicate, cloudy, layered inks with more saturated pastels, refocusing and inflecting them. Wright assembled two vivid sets of smaller pages into artist books, with accordion constructions, one of which is included in and lends its name to the exhibition. Down Home is accompanied by a special 'zine featuring images of the monotypes and some of the source materials that inspired them.
Image: Jimmy Wright, Estelle's Valise: Family Album, 1991/1996, monotype with pastel, 22 x 29 3/4 inches. Photo by Robert Chase Heishman