Kambui Olujimi: All I Got To Give | Elizabeth Neel: The Ghosts of My Friends

1700 S Santa Fe Ave #101, Los Angeles, CA 90021
Oct 28, 4 PM - 7 PM — ends Dec 23, 2023
Vielmetter Los Angeles is excited to announce Kambui Olujimi’s exhibition, All I Got to Give, on view from October 28th through December 23rd, 2023. Born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, Olujimi works conceptually across mediums including painting, sculpture, photography, and video among others. This exhibition is Olujimi’s first solo show with the gallery and in Los Angeles.

Culminating the multidisciplinary artist’s decade long project of mining the history of dance marathons in the United States of the ‘20s and ‘30s, Olujimi’s latest series of watercolor paintings reinterpret the phenomenon of these endurance challenges and extrapolate on the poetic qualities of pushing the physical limits of the body. Olujimi’s works depict intimate moments between dancing couples, meditating on the impact of touch, embrace, and leaning on another as sources of strength and willpower to overcome
obstacles and as acts of resilience.

The spectacle of dance marathons, popularized in the 20s as a form of entertainment, continued through the Great Depression, taking on a different meaning as an act of survival. Contestants traveled far and wide to compete in several month-long contests of endurance, seeking shelter, food and monetary rewards. The voyeuristic spectacle of the marathons became both fascinating and morbid in the wake of economic depression and social upheaval. For Olujimi, this phenomenon represents a form that is deeply American–watching peoples’ struggles as entertainment. In the watercolors, Olujimi creates a mythic space, ruminating on the complexities of this phenomenon’s history and transmuting the blurred lines between theater and reality into dreamlike spaces where couples meld into each other and float in space.

In embracing each other, Olujimi’s figures lean with their full weight onto the other, underscoring the balance between the bodies as necessity; needing each other to continue, relying on each other to survive. The physicality of the figures reflects the essential quality of companionship and interdependence–in the dance marathons the contestants relied on one another in order to sleep while continuing to dance.

The dance marathons were vehemently segregated. As such these acts of resilience carry profound symbolic meaning beyond their supposed function. Olujimi’s figures come to symbolize the will of the human spirit to defy and live beyond the constraints of societal oppression – while this particularly grotesque and wondrous history speaks both to the construction and the cruelty of the mythic landscape America.

Kambui Olujimi was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. He received his MFA from Columbia University and attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. His
work challenges established modes of thinking that commonly function as "inevitabilities." This pursuit takes shape through interdisciplinary bodies of work spanning sculpture, installation,
photography, writing, video and performance. His works have premiered nationally and internationally at Sundance Film Festival, Museum of Modern Art, LACMA, Sharjah Biennial 15, 14th Dak’Art Biennale, and Kunsthal Rotterdam, among others. Olujimi has been awarded grants, fellowships and residencies from The Andrew Mellon Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, Black Rock Senegal, MacDowell, and Yaddo.


Vielmetter Los Angeles is pleased to present Elizabeth Neel’s solo exhibition “The Ghosts of My Friends” on view from October 28 through December 23, 2023.

Constituting the New York based artist’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, Neel’s new suite of paintings ruminates on mark making as a trigger for memory, a reminder of loss and a proof of life in a cultural moment increasingly defined by the speed of communication and the depersonalization of experience. Neel’s distinctive visual language of abstraction translates her observations and felt experiences into dynamic compositions rife with choreographed sweeping gestures and potent juxtapositions of color.

Titled after the guestbook “The Ghosts of My Friends” published in 1908 by Cecil Henland, Neel’s exhibition probes painting’s capacity to act as an index for cherished people, places, events and rituals. Henland’s collectible autograph book was a keepsake in which visitors would fold their ink signatures horizontally, thereby creating bilateral, biomorphic images open to interpretation. Similarly, Neel’s employment of folding and mono printing techniques alongside dripping, sweeping, and geometric forms creates phantoms of touch that imply alchemic references within the compositions.

Both a record of an event and an entertainment, Henland’s novelty item became popular in a cultural era defined in part by a fascination with spiritualism in response to pandemic and war. Contemporaneous with the publication of Henland’s book, the employment of psychics and various forms of séance to contact the dead were common. Like the collections of ghostly signatures, Neel’s paintings seek to suggest meaning beyond their literal forms, to capture a handhold and find a grip in the slippage of time.

Elizabeth Neel (b. 1975, Stowe, Vermont) lives and works in New York. She graduated from Columbia University with an MFA in 2007 and received a BA from Brown University in 1997. Recent solo exhibitions include Limb after Limb, Pilar Corrias, Savile Row, London, UK; Arms Now Legs, Salon 94, New York, NY; In The Belly of the Whale, Various Small Fires, Seoul, Korea; Elizabeth Neel: Nightjars and Allies, Pilar Corrias, London, UK; Tangled on the Serpent Chair, Mary Boone, New York, NY; Claw Hammer, Vielmetter Los Angeles; Vulture and Chicks, Pilar Corrias, London, UK; Lobster with Shell Game, Vielmetter Los Angeles; The People, the Park, the Ornament, Pilar Corrias, London, UK; 3 and 4 before 2 and 5, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, NY; Routes and Pressures, Vielmetter Los Angeles; Sphinx Ditch, Pilar Corrias Gallery, London, UK; Leopard Complex, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., NY; Stick Season, The Sculpture Center, New York, NY. Recent group exhibitions include Structures of Feeling, Galerie Maria Bernheim, Zurich, Switzerland; Paintings, Mary Boone, New York, NY; Surface Work, Victoria Miro, London, UK; August and Everything After, Plymouth Rock, Zurich, Switzerland; Speaking Through Paint, Lori Bookstein Fine Art, New York, NY; Modern Talking, curated by Nicola Trezzi, Cluj Museum, Romania; Four Rooms, Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw, Poland; Painting Overall, Prague Biennial 5, Prague, Czech Republic; Going Where the Weather Suits My Clothes, A Fall of Light of Fabric, Mothers Tank Station, Dublin, Ireland; Living with Art: Collecting Contemporary in Metro New York, The Neuberger Museum, Purchase College, Purchase, NY; Abstract America, Saatchi Gallery, London, UK. Her works are in the following public collections: Albright-Knox, Buffalo, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Herbert F Johnson Museum, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.