Callicoon Fine Arts is pleased to present Divvy fair, by Kahlil Robert Irving, a series of eight porcelain and stoneware sculptures and two digital collages. Irving’s practice challenges constructs around decorative arts, monuments, and how race has been reinforced in America. This installation is an extension of Street Views, an ongoing series of sculptures and installations Irving began in 2013.
Irving has lived, studied, and worked in Saint Louis for a decade. The sculptures in this installation reference the city’s current state of decay and compression, as well as deeper cultural and social tensions within the city. Combining different construction methods such as extrusion and sprig molds, the new sculptures resemble amalgams of concrete, crumpled aluminum foil, and found objects. They include handmade tubes, found architectural motifs, and slip-cast porcelain objects made by the artist. The assemblages are glazed and adorned with different colored enamels and metallic lusters. The myriad of textures and trompe-l’oeil objects in the works trace a lineage from China's Ming dynasty objects to German Meissen wares to 20th century kitsch objects and 21st century meme production.
For Divvy fair, Irving maintains his engagement with contemporary instances of violence and terror against Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. In both the sculptures and digital collages, screenshots and scans of newspaper headlines and documentary photography become image transfers that track the misconduct surrounding the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith in the greater St. Louis area. Other clippings illustrate the militarization of the police in response to civilian protests in St. Louis and beyond, most recently prompted by the acquittal of Jason Stockley and his charge to sue the government for malicious prosecution. Text from the public record of Stockley’s lawsuit is also applied to some of these works. Irving also observes forces of segregation and gentrification by incorporating signs and symbols, memes and patterns, that allude to these processes. This most recent body of work proffers a lyrical and elegiac sense of both belonging and loss.
The textural density of these works exceeds the physical and relates to the ethos of the contemporary city. Each artwork extends the possibility of sculpture form, emerging from an unknown city’s sidewalks and the cracks in between. Irving’s work appeals to the potential of both the historical and imaginary to inform the present.
Kahlil Robert Irving is an artist born in San Diego, California, in 1992, currently living and working in St. Louis. He attended the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art, Washington University, in St. Louis (MFA, 2017) and the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA, Art History and Ceramics, 2015). In 2017, Callicoon Fine Arts mounted his first solo exhibition in New York titled Streets:Chains:Cocktails. Since then, his work has been exhibited at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles; the RISD Museum, Rhode Island; among others. Between September and December 2018, Irving had a solo exhibition at Wesleyan University in Connecticut titled Street Matter – Decay & Forever / Golden Age. Irving was a 2018 Artist in Residence at Art Omi and the 2017–18 Alice C. Cole Fellow at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. Starting in 2018, Irving has been honored as the Robert Chapman Turner Teaching Fellow in Ceramic Art at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. His work is in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas; The RISD Museum, Providence, the Riga Porcelain Museum, Latvia; J.P Morgan Chase Art Collection, New York; The Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection at the Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri; the Foundation for Contemporary Ceramic Art, Kecskemet, Hungary; and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem.