Brooks Museum goes global
Two exhibits tip off celebration of 100th anniversary
Circuitous Succession Gallery, 500 S. Second: J. Raymond Mireles Retrospective, through Sept 1. Opening reception 6-9 p.m. Friday. Gallery Talk 6-9 p.m. Saturday. Closing reception 6-9 p.m. Aug. 26. Photographic compilation of San Diego artist Mireles’ work from past to present, including recent photos of Memphis residents that are part of his latest project, Neighbors. 901-229-1041. circuitoussuccession. com Found Memphis, 2491 Broad Ave.: Jana Wilson: “Vintagia!” opening party 6-8 p.m. Friday. A collection of original mixed media collages and art works created from pieces of the past. 901-607-1328. Gallery Ten Ninety One, 7151 Cherry Farms Road (WKNO Digital Media Center), Cordova: The 35th Juried Exhibition of the Tennessee Watercolor Society, through July 28. Opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday. Thirty selected paintings. 901-458-2521. wkno. org Memphis Botanic Garden, 750 Cherry Road (Audubon Park): Artists’ Link annual Group Show, Saturday through July 31 in Visitors Center Gallery and Fratelli’s Café Gallery. Opening reception 4-6 p.m. July 10. 901-636-4100. L Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin, Suite 104: Summer Group Exhibition opens Friday and runs through July 30. Painting and sculpture. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. 901-7672200. Lrossgallery. com.
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art goes global in two exhibitions that coincide with the institution’s 100th anniversary this year.
In the Rotunda — the museum’s entrance hall — London-born artist Yinka Shonibare MBE, raised in Nigeria and England, offers “Rage of the Ballet Gods,” a witty sendup of dance, myth and climate change. In one of the downstairs galleries, “Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars,” a multimedia installation created by the Moroccan-born artist, delivers an exhilarating burst of color, sound and funk in honor of his multicultural musical heroes.
“Rage of the Ballet Gods” is the first of a series of exhibitions and installations that will adorn the lobby of the Brooks, replacing, at least temporarily, the monumental “Vide-o-belisk” of Nam June Paik, commissioned by the Brooks in 2002. That towering piece, composed of vintage television sets and neon signs, always felt like a gloomy colossus, sucking all the light out of the space. Now airy and filled with light, the Rotunda is a lobby transformed, helped not a little by Shonibare’s clever sculptures.
Four of these stand poised on pedestals, high enough that viewers look upward to see their details. Each is a mannequin, three garbed in colorful ballet-dancer’s tutus, while one is a little boy sprouting butterfly wings who seems to be running away. The tutus, and the boy’s knee-pants and shirt, are fashioned from bright, highly patterned Dutch wax cloth, a fabric manufactured in Holland and England with Indonesian batik designs and then sold in West Africa. The dancers carry symbols of the gods: Apollo’s lyre, Poseidon’s trident, Zeus’ thunderbolt. They also, though, carry a wicked-looking pistol (Zeus), a dagger (Poseidon) and a rapier (Apollo). Instead of
heads, the four figures bear antique globes on their necks, each ominously darkened by a premonition of catastrophe.
Altogether, “Rage of the Ballet Gods” exudes gaiety and flightiness, a sense of the ephemeral and the fashionable, of fleeting beauty and wry perversity briefly captured. The grouping makes the Rotunda feel as if it were touched by a strange divinity.
“My Rock Stars” is an immersive experience that consists of a series of large-format photographs, a beautifully realized video, and a total environment of foodstuffs and stools, benches and tables designed by the artist. The exhibition was organized by the Newark Museum of Art.
Hajjaj’s photographs present 10 musicians — eight solo and one duo — in a riot of bright colors and patterns in clothes, backdrops, mats and frames that are not only eye-catching but mesmerizing. The singers and instrumentalists, most involved with indigenous music, hail from Morocco, Brazil, Venezuela, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Jamaica and the United States, and Hajjaj depicts them with marked, even giddy individuality. The artist designed the clothing as well as the space each musician inhabits. The video installation, which lasts about 30 minutes, is composed of nine panels, in each of which the musicians perform while the others turn to watch and listen, creating a sense of empathy and solidarity. However unfamiliar the musical form may be, is the implication, it exists as part of a greater whole of the world’s music. Yinka Shonibare MBE’S, Ballet God (Poseidon), 2015. The London artist’s exhibit “Rage of the Ballet Gods” features sculpted mannequins as part of a display filled with witty sendups of dance, myth and climate change.
Hassan Hajjaj’s Helen, the Venus Bushfires, 2011, is one piece featured in his gallery “Hassan Hajjaj: My Rock Stars” at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.