Mar 23 — May 25, 2023
Featuring work by: Eamon Ore-Giron
Opening reception, March 23, 6–8pm
Fleisher/Ollman presents Black Medallions, No Gold, Eamon Ore-Giron’s first solo exhibition at the gallery and the first exhibition exclusively devoted to the artist’s new Black Medallion series. The show coincides with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the African American Museum in Philadelphia’s exhibition Rising Sun: Artists in an Uncertain America (March 23–October 8, 2023), which features two large-scale paintings by Ore-Giron commissioned by the Pennsylvania Academy.
Ore-Giron is best known for his Infinite Regress series, which prominently features gold paint in conversation with a range of other colors explored in ever-permuting abstract geometric compositions. As explained by the artist, his Peruvian ancestors ascribed profound ritualistic and cultural importance to gold. Realizing that gold also has a troubling history given the violence inflicted on indigenous people in the colonialist pursuit of the precious metal, Ore-Giron counters this brutal legacy in the Black Medallion series. While incorporating similar motifs found in the Infinite Regress gold paintings, in the Black Medallion works, Ore-Giron replaces gold with black:
"When listening recently to De La Soul’s 1989 album 3 Feet High and Rising, I was struck by the lyric 'Black medallions, no gold' from the song 'Buddy.' The suggestion of replacing a traditional symbol of wealth and might with something else—something that honors the culture and values of a community outside of the dominant power structure—resonated deeply with me…with the Black Medallion works, I am proposing a new value system, one that prioritizes the color black, and blackness itself, in place of gold. I am asking, “What are the implications and possibilities of making that shift, even on an aesthetic level?”
Taking cues from historical movements like Russian Suprematism and Brazilian Tropicália that evolved to address the 20th century’s political, social, and aesthetic upheavals, Ore-Giron proposes an abstraction that is of the world, not simply an exercise in formalism. In addition to these resonant influences, Ore-Giron’s practice draws from Concrete Art, Italian Futurism, the Mexican muralists, Amazonian tapestries, and other indigenous and craft traditions. Ore-Giron layers, combines, and manipulates simple shapes to create complex compositions that speak across cultures and temporalities. His paintings bring to mind pre-Columbian Paracas textiles, renowned for their geometric balance, highly stylized designs, and range of color. Ore-Giron’s preference for expanses of raw linen recall Moholy-Nagy's paintings of the 1920s, which prominently featured similar unpainted grounds, but might just as well originate from Ore-Giron's coming-of-age in Tucson, Arizona, an arid environment in which color always pops in the brown landscape.
Ore-Giron's painting, music, video, and performances, created as a solo practitioner and as part of collaborations, have been shown at venues including James Cohan Gallery, New York, NY; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, CA; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; LAXART, Los Angeles, CA; Deitch Projects, New York, NY; MUCA ROMA, Mexico City; Pérez Art Museum Miami, FL; Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Peres Projects, Los Angeles, CA; Consonni, Bilbao, Spain; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA, among others. In 2022, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, CO, presented a 20-year survey of his painting practice; this exhibition travels to The Contemporary Austin, TX, in March 2023. Ore-Giron's paintings are in museum collections including the Hammer Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Pérez Art Museum Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA; and the Whitney Museum, among others. In 2020, Ore-Giron was named a Presidential Visiting Artist by the Anderson Collection at Stanford University. Ore-Giron received a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1996 and an MFA, University of California, Los Angeles, in 2006.
The New York Times
image: “Black Medallion XIV (Inti)” (2022) by Eamon Ore-Giron at the top of a stair at PAFA.Credit: Aaron Richter for The New York Times