Ferrari Sheppard: Positions of Power 👀

403 Foothill Rd. Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Apr 16, 11 AM - 4 PM — ends May 15, 2021
UTA Artist Space is pleased to present Positions of Power, a solo exhibition of new paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist Ferrari Sheppard, on view from April 16 through May 15, 2021. The ambitious presentation fills all three of the gallery’s exhibition spaces with emotional portraits of influential cultural figures such as Jimi Hendrix and Tupac Shakur, as well as the artist’s friends and family. The exhibition is accompanied by an essay by Kristina Kay Robinson, whose writing and ideas are reflected in this release.

“Ferrari Sheppard is a creative force to be reckoned with—his paintings have a boldness that electrifies the space they hold. He has emerged as a poignant voice in contemporary painting and we are honored to share this new body of work at UTA Artist Space,” said Arthur Lewis, UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space Creative Director.

Blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, Sheppard creates mid to large-scale paintings depicting cultural figures and friends in the Black community. He incorporates gold leaf, adding a religious iconographical effect throughout his pieces, catching light and accentuating the presence of certain figures in his work. The large acrylic color, charcoal, and velvet on canvas paintings entail a sense of movement through the colors and brushstroke used, allowing the viewer to feel immersed in the painting.

In UTA Artist Space’s front gallery, Michele Lamy, co-founding partner and Executive Manager Art/Furniture Owenscorp, is pleased to participate in Positions of Power by presenting a Rick Owens Furniture 3 Prong Bench in Elm. This bench was initially shown at Rick Owens Furniture, MOCA 2016. The back gallery has been transformed into a shrine – hanging above a gold floor is an image of contemporary iconicity: a polaroid of Tupac.

Positions of Power is a summation of an era. Vibrant, plush and tender, these paintings are love letters to those who carried the weight of the “war on drugs” and risked it all in pursuit of humanity and economic freedom in the United States of America. A reclamation for a generation maligned for profit by the criminal justice system, Positions of Power is also for the survivors—a reverie for the onlooker. A chance to remember those once previously held. Those whose memory sustains us in the aftermath.

In the carefully rendered and emotional portraits with the edge of a deconstructionist, Ferrari Sheppard continues his work in abstract expressionism. Interspersed with his own unique sense of figuration, a new visual language emerges to tell the story of this era from the point of view of someone who experienced it. The work in this show extracts the soft and unguarded moments from decades of tragedy, enshrining them in gold, under careful layers of acrylic, setting them into history with bold strokes.

This Spring, UTA Artist Space will also present a series of virtual exhibitions, including Glenn Hardy this month and Nathan Wong next, and a physical solo exhibition featuring Manny Castro in May.

ABOUT FERRARI SHEPPARD (B. 1983, CHICAGO, IL)

Blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, the contemporary artist Ferrari Sheppard creates mid to large-scale paintings celebrating the humanity of Black people in the Americas and within the diaspora. The Los Angeles-based artist was born in Chicago and lived in various cities in Africa. His paintings are influenced by memories and lived experience, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

Sheppard’s approach to figuration heralds a new visual language, with large acrylic, charcoal, and 24k gold on canvas conveying movement and emotion through his confident brushstrokes and distinctive use of color. His abstract practice brings forth irregularities in each work giving the viewer a sense of activity and excitement. Evocative titles are used in a poetic manner to reflect deeper meanings and cultural references. The abstracted figures are created with an intuitive balance between subtle idiosyncrasies and intentional opacity, holding space for the complexity and expansiveness within each individual being.