Cy Gavin

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Cy Gavin (born 1985) is an American artist that lives and works in New York.[1] Gavin typically incorporates unusual materials in his paintings such as tattoo ink, pink sand, diamonds, staples, Bermudian iris seeds, and ashes.[2][3] Gavin also works in sculpture and video.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Gavin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and grew up 20 miles south of Pittsburgh in a steel and coal mining town called Donora, Pennsylvania. Both Gavin's mother and father worked in the region's glass factories.[4]

Gavin graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in 2007 and Columbia University's MFA program in 2016.[5]

Work[edit]

After graduating from Carnegie Mellon, Gavin moved to San Francisco and worked in post-production for several years before moving to New York in 2010. In New York, Gavin worked on various projects for Lia Gangitano at the non-profit gallery PARTICIPANT INC, collaborated with artist Ellen Cantor, and served as archivist for Vito Acconci.[6] Gavin has noted that both Cantor and Acconci are important influences.[7]

Overture, At Heaven's Command, and Rubell Foundation Residency

Gavin's first solo exhibition in New York, titled Overture, opened at Sargent's Daughters in July 2015.[8] Twelve mixed-media paintings were shown. The works explored the artist's childhood, specifically his relationship with his father, as well as the "double consciousness" of black life in America. Gavin paints his abstracted figures using a unique combination of paints that render the subject in "ultra-black" and contrasts the figure's austerity with bright, saturated colors for the landscapes and backgrounds.[9]

The show opened with positive reviews from critics. Martha Schwendener from The New York Times wrote that Gavin makes, "the backgrounds of his paintings as attention-grabbing as the figures. Craggy and sculpted, they conjure the terrain of the islands, but also canvases by Francis Bacon, Gauguin and Cézanne, whose landscapes look as if they were chiseled onto the canvas."[10]

Gavin's second solo exhibition, titled At Heaven's Command, opened at Sargent's Daughters in April 2016.[11] The show included more of Gavin's hybrid paintings as well as new video and sculptural works. Gavin spent the previous year in Bermuda and used his time on the island to research his family history (his father grew up on the island) and the complicated history of the Slave Trade on the island.[12] Inspiration for the title of the show comes from the first line in the British anthem "Rule, Britannia," which was written during Bermuda's slave period.[13]

Later that year, Gavin was included in the group exhibition High Anxiety at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, Florida.[14] Gavin also held a six-month residency at the Rubell Foundation during this time.[15]

In 2017, Gavin moved his studio from New York to Dutchess County, New York.[16]

Gavin's third solo exhibition, Devils Isle, opened in early 2018 in Paris, France at VNH Gallery.[17]

Themes[edit]

Style

Many of Gavin's paintings explore ideas of, "identity and disarticulation from one's culture that relate to the artist's own relationship to Bermuda, Africa and the history of slavery that remains institutionally obfuscated on the island."[18] Gavin often critiques various notions of identity, history, and colonialism and has incorporated complicated themes of land, sexuality, elation and euphoria, trauma, and the African diaspora in his paintings and video works.[19]

Gavin often paints his figures with pins and needles driven into their skin referencing religious idols called Nkondi made by the Kongo people. These objects roughly translate to 'hunter;' the needle-ridden figures are representative of a dual meaning as hunted people taken from their homeland during the American Slave Trade as well as spiritual agent hunters who attack wrongdoers and various enemies, in this case passive viewers of history.[20]

Influences

Gavin has been strongly influenced by historian and activist W.E.B. Dubois, especially his writings from The Souls of Black Folks. Dubois and Nkisi Nkondi, objects infused with spirits and religious idols from the Kongo, were central to his paintings in Overture.[21]

Gavin lists a number of influences and mentors such as artists Matthew Ritchie, Sarah Sze, Gregory Amenoff, Fia Backström, Sanford Biggers and art historian and curator Kellie Jones.[22]

Exhibitions[edit]

Solo exhibitions

  • At Heaven's Command, Sargent's Daughters, New York, 2016[23]
  • Overture, Sargent's Daughters, New York, NY 2015[24]

Selected group exhibitions

  • The Lure of the Dark: Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, 2018 (forthcoming)[25]
  • Between the Waters, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY 2018 (forthcoming)[26]
  • Hecate, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles, CA, 2017[27]
  • Dirge, JTT, New York, NY, 2017[28]
  • Frame By Frame, Callicoon Fine Arts, New York, NY, 2017[29]
  • High Anxiety, Rubell Family Collection, Miami, FL 2016[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ McMahon, Katherine (August 27, 2015). "Habitat: Cy Gavin". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  2. ^ Schwendener, Martha (August 13, 2015). "Review: Cy Gavin Employs Unusual Canvas Ingredients in 'Overture'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  3. ^ Solway, Diane. "Cy Gavin, a Young Artist With an Eye For History". W Magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  4. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  5. ^ Solway, Diane. "Cy Gavin, a Young Artist With an Eye For History". W Magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  6. ^ McMahon, Katherine (August 27, 2015). "Habitat: Cy Gavin". ARTnews. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  7. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  8. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  9. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  10. ^ Schwendener, Martha (August 13, 2015). "Review: Cy Gavin Employs Unusual Canvas Ingredients in 'Overture'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-01. 
  11. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  12. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  13. ^ Solway, Diane. "Cy Gavin, a Young Artist With an Eye For History". W Magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  14. ^ "Cy Gavin". rfc.museum. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  15. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  16. ^ "Studio Visit: Cy Gavin by Ryan Chapman – BOMB Magazine". bombmagazine.org. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  17. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  18. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  19. ^ Solway, Diane. "Cy Gavin, a Young Artist With an Eye For History". W Magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  20. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  21. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  22. ^ "How Maverick Artist Cy Gavin Painted His Own Way From Bermuda to the Rubell Foundation | artnet News". artnet News. August 17, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-14. 
  23. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  24. ^ "Cy Gavin – Exhibitions – Sargent's Daughters". www.sargentsdaughters.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  25. ^ "The Lure of the Dark Contemporary Painters Conjure the Night". massmoca.org. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  26. ^ "Between the Waters | Whitney Museum of American Art". whitney.org. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  27. ^ "Hecate – Various Small Fires, Los Angeles". Various Small Fires, Los Angeles. July 2, 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  28. ^ "JTT / EXHIBITIONS / Previous / 2017.06 Dirge". www.jttnyc.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  29. ^ "FRAME BY FRAME". callicoonfinearts.com. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 
  30. ^ "High Anxiety". rfc.museum. Retrieved 2017-11-13. 

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