Los Angeles, United States
October 8, 2020 – December 31, 2020
Show Gallery presents The Politics Of Color, a solo exhibition of new mixed media paintings, drawings, and sculptural works by Los Angeles-based artist Sharon Kagan. Kagan brings her laser focus to subjects of patriotism, racism and gender identity—weaving together the formal and symbolic qualities of color with the concepts of interconnection and separateness.
By employing color to create images that vibrate, pulse and move, Kagan hopes to make tangible the knowledge of both physicists and mystics—that all matter is composed of rapidly moving energy. Beginning in 2017, Kagan started having a visceral reaction to the red, white and blue of our American flag as they seemed to have been co-opted by the “brand” of the far right. By 2018 Kagan began to highlight the fibrous nature of hemp rope, at times, transforming the soft thread into something barbed and menacing. For the work in The Politics of Color, the artist magnifies individual stitches, thus transforming a harmless piece of knitting into a close up of a chain-linked fence.
Her practice begins when she knits with hemp rope or twine. The knitted sculpture is then photographed using a 3 megapixel camera. By over-enlarging the image, thousands of pixelated forms emerge which Kagan painstakingly outlines in ink. Thick and thin lines and varied distances between the forms assert values to recreate the nearly lost threads. In order to abstract and physically break down the forms of the knitted images, the artist grids the canvas by hand. The many pixelated shapes within each thread demonstrate her belief that nothing is solid and nothing and no one is separate.
Sharon Kagan’s work amplifies the invisible web that connects the one to the whole. Nowhere is this more visible than in the painting, Complexion. Here a new matrix is created in which the dualities of masculine and feminine energies form an equal balance—the geometric grid (structured, ordered, the mind)—partners with the organic forms of the knitting (freedom, creativity, the heart). In a painting like Complexion, you see nuances rather than dichotomies. At times Kagan shapes the quilt like grid in the background into a view of the earth from miles above where there are no boundaries or perceivable differences. In some places the edges of the threads dissolve and the interior shapes escape the larger confines of the perceived border.
For well over a decade Kagan has used knitting as a metaphor to represent our interconnectedness. While this body of work was inspired by the racial inequities and political divisions worldwide, the work speaks even more forcefully to this moment of discovery that we are tied to each other—no longer in an abstraction—but a guttural reality. In the current context, we have certainly learned that no one is safe unless everyone is safe.
Kagan is donating a percentage of proceeds from The Politics of Color to nonprofits Fair Fight and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
Sharon Kagan is a multidisciplinary artist who utilizes knitting, photography, drawing and painting as the foundation of her personal lexicon. Kagan has a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA and a Master of Art in Sculpture from Otis Art Institute, where she trained with Betye Saar and Germano Celant.
Between undergraduate and graduate school she worked as a core member of The Dinner Party, Judy Chicago’s monumental feminist installation. This placed her at the center of cutting edge thought about feminism and creative practices. While being mentored by Judy, there were frequent dinners with writers, art critics, historians and artists—people like Arlene Raven, Maria Gimbutas and Lucy Lippard.
Kagan has actively exhibited in Los Angeles since 1993, including exhibitions at the Patricia Correia Gallery, the Pete & Susan Barrett Gallery at Santa Monica College, and Gallery 825 as well as in Basel, Switzerland, Miami, and New York. Since 2018, Kagan’s work has been part of a touring solo exhibition in museums throughout the United States. Kagan lives and works in Los Angeles.
Show Gallery is an art gallery and artist residency located in the heart of Hollywood which showcases local and international contemporary artists. Show Gallery was created by platinum selling recording artist Poe and John Gheur, founder of Signature Creative, in collaboration with curator Margot Ross.