An Inquiry of Texture: Pamela Smith Hudson, April Bey and Michi Meko at Chimento Contemporary
Chimento Contemporary, Los Angeles
through October 19
Written by Sydney Walters
Chimento Contemporary is currently exhibiting works from three distinctly unique artists: Pamela Smith Hudson, April Bey and Michi Meko.
Pamela Smith Hudson’s paintings are quiet, meditative, and rhythmic. The textures undulate, carving out a topographical map. The rupturing layers of Mark Bradford and minimal simplicity of Agnes Martin are echoed in Marking Space as she maneuvers the ancient mediums of encaustic painting and printmaking. These pieces are fleshed out on varying surfaces implying the expansive terrain of her mark making. Arguably the most visually striking of this collection is DBMWGH 2, a collagraph of exquisite turquoise and succulent pink. The pocketed variance of opacity and sequence mimics an amoeba retained in a viscous membrane. Her larger scale works with delicate, low relief textures require attentiveness and openness. They extend an invitation for your eyes to trace the labyrinthine spines of her reliefs and are constrained for patient consideration.
A striking contrast to Hudson’s soft subtlety, April Bey’s work indulges in bold colors, patterns and fearless textures. Bey sews and collages knockoff Chinese wax fabric purchased in Africa and synthesizes them with Western notions of fashion, beauty and colonization. One of the most poignant of Bey’s pieces is titled With My Cadillac, Six Woofers and Fo’amps. Complete with a blue glitter border and hand stitching, a text reading LOOK AT THE WAY YOU LOOK AT ME is sewn across a picture of a motorcycle line in crowd control. Text is difficult to integrate into art even in the best of times. There is a fine line between giving away too much information resulting in a flat, simple interpretation, and adding nuance and complexity to a work of art. Regardless if you know the song “Daddy Fat Sax” by Big Boi, whose lyrics Bey acquires her title and text, the words on With My Cadillac creates an invisible loop, to see and be seen.
The hidden gem in this show is in the back gallery. Michi Meko’s sculptures and assemblage pieces are delightfully textured and a welcome addition to Bey and Smith Hudson’s work. Two cast-iron skillets, polished with gold leaf and dipped in black glitter are hung beneath Watch Over, a larger sculpture made out of a palm frond and fringe. Hanging like a talisman with wooden arms outstretched, a tangled mop of tumbleweed dramatically spirals, casting veined shadows on the wall. “Hoghead Cheese” and “In the Pines In the Pines Where The Sun Don’t Shine”, two oil stick and mixed media, including grocery bags, revel in the dark recesses of inky black. White angular forms peep out from the blackness alluding to an intricate web woven nearly out of sight. Sparkling gold leaf and glitter give the illusion of a woven work and the textural curiosities give astonishing body and strength to his work.