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On Wednesday in Beverly Hills, UTA Artist Space opened “Dreamweavers.” On view through April 13, the group exhibition takes a closer look at the paradox of fact and fantasy, seen through the lens of artists who operate in an imaginative psychological space.
Presented by Swizz Beatz and curated by Nicola Vassell, “DREAMWEAVERS” includes artists like Nick Cave, Karon Davis, Kerry James Marshall, Ming Smith, Nari Ward, Carrie Mae Weems, Charles White, and Kehinde Wiley, among others. Highlighted in the show, as well, is a political thread, touching upon order and justice and key facets like truth, justice, resilience, and triumph. For the opening, Whitewall spoke with Vassell about the show and how the artists are creating works to mirror our times.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about “Dreamweavers” and what type of story it tells.
NICOLA VASSELL: “Dreamweavers” is a passion project, it hits at the heart of the work I like to do. It tells the story of the surreal moment we find ourselves in, through the eyes of some of the most important artists in the world. I have two phenomenal collaborators—my brother in arts, Swizz Beatz, and the exciting, ardent UTA Fine Arts team.
WW: Works by artists like Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave, Deana Lawson, Carrie Mae Weems are included, as are new works by Kerry James Marshall and Arthur Jafa. Can you tell us a bit about the types of works you wanted to show in the exhibition?
NV: The essence of the surreal invokes wit, imagination, provocation and cunning. These traits belong inherently to all artists in “Dreamweavers” and these attitudes throb at the brim of their respective practices. They make no attempt to disguise such inclinations which is a great seduction.
WW: How does the show highlight the artists’ imaginative, provocative, or psychological expressions (a common thread in all of their works)?
NV: In this sense the show is a mix of desire and collaboration. The criteria for concept was artists’ clever narration of paradox. Once the grouping was fulfilled, it was possible that anything from these artists would match. However, I had an idea of work that would play well and also asked each camp to imagine best fit. Ultimately everyone delivered exactly what they could.
WW: Identity and politics are also strong topics in the show. How are the artists speaking to these topics with the works presented?
NV: The artists here operate largely in the language of nuance. Every artistic stroke is suggestion or commentary. To understand, one must consider the “stories of the tribe”, the layers and layers of history which are referenced. These narratives are the best evidence of collective experience and are the deep wells from which black creatives draw.
WW: A lot of the art presented in the show is telling the story of our times. As a curator, what do you seek to include the truth is seen and felt in a show like “Dreamweavers?”
NV: I want to affirm what we all see and articulate what we all feel.
WW: Tell us a bit about your curatorial agency, Concept NV.
NV: Concept NV is a curatorial agency. We cut our teeth in the avant-garde and blue chip gallery and auction worlds. Now we basically live at the edges of art and culture, where we can investigate social and cultural phenomena. We like to come up with ideas that narrate the way the world is moving, which for better or worse is towards a kind of adrenalized hybridity. It won’t matter so much that you are very good at art or very good at music, film or environmental philanthropy. What will be captivating is how cleverly you can live in all three, which speaks to a purer creative force manifesting in all things. We are working with people who understand this and who want to transmit essential messages through artfully orchestrated mechanisms.