Art Basel Miami Beach

OVR December 2 – 6, 2020

David Castillo presents Continental Drift a virtual exhibition to be shown in the Online Viewing Room platform of Art Basel Miami Beach (December 2 – 6). This exhibition brings together a selection of works—across painting, assemblage, and textile constructions—by gallery artists Sanford Biggers, Lyle Ashton Harris, Quisqueya Henriquez, Pepe Mar, Glexis Novoa, Xaviera Simmons, Shinique Smith, and Vaughn Spann.


Continental Drift looks at the unsettled and shifting nature of meaning across time. In semiological terms, the context of history weighs heavily on meaning. Significance is ascribed to objects and symbols in a culturally cooperative process; they carry with them layers of societal understanding that build upon the last, adapting their significance to the language, visual modes, and sociopolitical circumstances of an age.


The works in this exhibition reveal a citational approach to art-making, where meaning is slowly constructed, kneaded, and redefined—layer by layer—across material and form, built up through strata of reference. The artists represented each challenge the well-understood conditions of the media and art historical genres they engage, generating cycles of de- and re-signification across their works.


Sanford Biggers’ works create new, visceral topographies across the surfaces of antique quilts, recontextualizing these objects. Many of his quilts bely the violence endemic to the period of American history during which these quilts were made, reflecting upon the troubled legacies that have been carried forward from that time.


Lyle Ashton Harris’ Shadow Works are monumental assemblage portraits of the artist envisioned through a vast, personal archive of photographs, objects, and ephemera. These materials become personalized markers of Harris’ past.


Quisqueya Henriquez adapts everyday items—including handbag handles and straps—into stylized, formal compositions which harken visually to Modernism and Post-War Abstraction. Inserting herself into the art historical narratives and contexts of that time, Henriquez proposes a revised and more inclusive art history.


Pepe Mar constructs abstracted visages from found objects purchased in queer second-hand shops. Playing with the phenomenon of pareidolia, or the human tendency to see faces in inanimate objects, Mar suggests the hidden life of things and how they might be imbued with the histories of those who once owned them.


Glexis Novoa abstracts design language into large-scale, rhythmic paintings that evoke images of viral spread, cellular formations, and microscopic bodies; an envisioning of abstraction through the lens of COVID-19 and the enduring global impact of the pandemic and its reverberation into the future.


Xaviera Simmons examines the expanded field of landscape as a pictorial genre to be redefined across the visual modes of this time and of those past. Pairing color field paintings with panels of winding texts which reference sky, sea, or land, the artist elicits the imagery of landscapes without having to show one.


Shinique Smith builds a complex gestural vocabulary of found objects, textiles, and sweeping calligraphic forms in quasi-autobiographical paintings which chart memories of her life and adolescence. Borrowing visual references from graffiti culture, Japanese calligraphy, and fashion—interests from her youth—Smith creates a hybrid language from these disparate influences.


Vaughn Spann projects allegorical contexts onto formalist symbols—such as the X—to reflect upon the changing definitions of these shapes and tropes across cultures and times. He imbues these pieces with the social, political, and cultural circumstances of the contemporary moment, using the power of symbols to codify current events into history.


Continental Drift looks to art as a laboratory of meaning, where the churn of references, concepts, and materials across the surfaces of a piece relay changing connotations and definitions. Taken together, the artists represented in this exhibition work with meaning as a material, showing it to be pliable, adaptable, and unceasingly transitional.

Wednesday, December 2
Pepe Mar and Quisqueya Henriquez in Conversation at 
7:00 pm EST. Join us.


Thursday, December 3
RSVP opening of Vaughn Spann: 
Chapel Paintings. Please RSVP.


Friday, December 4
Shinique Smith Conversation in Studio at 
7:00 PM EST. Join us.


Saturday, December 5
David Castillo and Xaviera Simmons in Conversation at 
7:00 pm EST. Join us.

RSVP Opening of Vaughn Spann: Chapel Paintings. Please RSVP.

Sanford Biggers
Lyle Ashton Harris
Quisqueya Henriquez
Pepe Mar
Xaviera Simmons
Glexis Novoa
Vaughn Spann