Miles McEnery Gallery is thrilled to announce an exhibition of new paintings by David Huffman. “The Awakening,” the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, will open on 8 September at 525 West 22nd Street and remain on view through 15 October 2022. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue featuring an essay by Lawrence Rinder.
Huffman is a painter, video and installation artist whose work merges science fiction aesthetics and the exploration of self identity. His socially conscious compositions emphasize the idea that abstraction has always been a political act; it is as entangled with the messiness of identity as it is concerned with materiality and form. Huffman is one of the progenitors of Afrofuturism, a literary, musical, and artistic movement that looks to the unfathomable possibilities of deep space as a mechanism for exploring alternative histories and futures for the African diaspora.
Rinder, who came out of retirement to write on behalf of Huffman’s work, explains, “In Huffman’s paintings, kente cloth visually rhymes with hard-edge abstraction, the head of a sphinx merges with the face of his mom, and basketballs float alongside the moons of Jupiter and Pluto. Their presence in these paintings is not a clever or ironic art historical pose but, rather, an authentic and genuine reflection on his early life experience.”
Contemporary art historian Derek Conrad Murray, PhD, has written cogently about Huffman’s engagement with “social abstraction.” The term, coined by the artist Mark Bradford, applies to contemporaries like Julie Mehretu and Samuel Levi Jones who balance references to social issues with attention to formal concerns growing out of twentieth-century abstract aesthetics. Murray elaborates on the artist’s oeuvre: “Huffman’s social abstractions make a powerful argument that formalism is not just about escapist pleasures and fraudulent claims of the universal, that within all those tempestuous gestures and drips has always resided an irrepressible social urgency.”
David Huffman (b. in 1963 in Berkeley, CA) studied at the New York Studio School and the California College of the Arts & Crafts, and received his Master of Fine Art degree at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco in 1999.
Recent solo exhibitions include “The Awakening,” Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; “Terra Incognita,” Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; “Afro Hippie,” Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA; Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, CA; “Print Project,” Paulson Fontaine Press, Berkeley, CA; “Worlds in Collision,” Roberts and Tilton Gallery, Culver City, CA; and “Everything Went Dark Until I Saw Angels,” Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
Recent group exhibitions include “Painters Paint Paintings: LA Version,” Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; “BOTH TEAMS PLAY HARD,” San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA (forthcoming); “Painters Paint Paintings: LA Version,” Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; “Personal to Political: Celebrating the African American Artists of Paulson Fontaine Press,” Bakersfield Museum of Art, Bakersfield, CA; “The Artist’s Eye: Tammy Rae Carland, David Huffman, Lava Thomas, John Zurier, ” Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; “Mothership: Voyage Into Afrofuturism,” Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, CA; “Recognition and Response: Rico Gatson and David Huffman,” Miles McEnery Gallery at The Armory Show, New York, NY; “Home & Away: Selections from Common Practice,” Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY; and “To the Hoop: Basketball and Contemporary Art,” Weatherspoon Museum of Art, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC.
His work may be found in the collections of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; Embassy of the United States of America, Dakar, Senegal; Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; San José Museum of Art, San José, CA; and The Studio Museum, Harlem, New York, NY, among others.
David Huffman lives and works between Berkeley and Oakland, CA.