Jimmy Wright: LA – NY 73 -74

M+B is pleased to present LA – NY 73 – 74, Jimmy Wright’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The show is comprised of works on paper and Mylar from the artist’s five-decade career and have never before been shown in Los Angeles. The show will run from February 16 through March 30, 2019, with an opening reception on Saturday, February 16 from 6 to 9 pm.

The exhibition focuses on a crucial period in the artist’s development when Wright moved to New York in 1974 following a period of graduate study at the Art Institute of Chicago and a stay in Los Angeles. Two bodies of work will be on view: historical drawings produced in New York that capture Wright’s involvement with the subculture of gay bathhouses and clubs, and new works based on his stay in Los Angeles in the summer of 1973.

Upon arriving in New York, Wright immersed himself in the city’s flourishing gay scene and began making drawings with unabashedly erotic gay figurative imagery as their subject. A keen observer of human behavior, these drawings have an immediacy and eyewitness quality, while also being in conversation with the important cultural and social changes happening during the time. Eventually, as the AIDS crisis began to devastate the gay community, Wright stopped making this series. His works on paper from this time stand as a testament to the era’s exhilarating, but brief, post-Stonewall, pre-AIDS moment.

Also on view will be a new body of work in which Wright explores his experiences as a young man in sun-drenched Los Angeles. In 1973, Wright traveled to the West Coast and stayed with his friend, the art critic Bruce Kurtz, at a beach house for the summer. The new pen and ink works on Mylar are based on the artist’s sketches from this time and are a look back, a revisitation of his youthful adventures. 

Depicting surfers and young men in private moments, these works capture a reflective, filmic quality, with halcyon memories and narratives filtered through the intervening decades. These works reveal Wright’s mastery in sensitivity of touch, with colors-rather than lines-often demarcating spaces and forms. Also included in this selection are new flower still lifes by Wright, his well-known body of work that he began making in the 80s. Working within the limits of a traditional genre, Wright imbues these floral subjects with the same insightful, delicate evanescence as his figurative work. 

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