Lorna Simpson: Give Me Some Moments

Lorna Simpson’s new collages are “instant archetypes of the current mood,” and that should surprise no one, said Shana Nys Dambrot in LA Weekly. The 59-year-old Brooklyn native was recently awarded a J. Paul Getty Medal for career achievements, and a month ago she was already shaken by how the Covid-19 outbreak had exposed the persistence of profound inequities in America—and was worrying if the country was “being brought to its knees by these mechanisms of hate ramping back up.” Many of the small collages in her new series make use of midcentury images from Jet and Ebony magazines, but the two that now feel most salient are titled Flames. Created late last year, they each show an impeccably groomed black woman crowned with fire from a burning building. In truth, all the new work “speaks to conditions of both fear and political strife.”

“The exhibition also acts as a showcase for Simpson’s career,” said Tom Seymour in TheArtNewspaper.com. Explore Hauser & Wirth’s site and you’ll find a library of images that shows how she’s built a coherent oeuvre from a mixture of collage, video, and, in a standout 2019 show, “turbu lent, ink-dark paintings.” In so many of her works, said Aruna D’Souza in 4Columns .org, the juxtapositions Simpson creates “seem to erode the nature/culture divide,” presenting black women as otherworldly beings whose beauty and strength can’t be contained by the demands white culture makes of them. Their hair becomes fire or a map of the stars in the night sky; their bodies loom like mountains over lesser civilians. In each case, they attain “a kind of tender and surreal beauty.”