Autumn Ramsey’s exhibition at Adds Donna builds on a cultural inclination to look at the surface of things often without delving deeper. It’s not always possible to determine the quality of the content just by looking at the surface. Ramsey’s juxtaposition of her seemingly simple abstract shape paintings with her more complex iconic work lets us examine this bias and in the process reveals the deeper character of her practice.
For much of Western history the body has been conceptualized as simply one more object among others, part of the physical world, not entirely rational and a source of disruption that needs to be controlled. This social construction of difference has correlations in ideas of race, gender, class, and sexual orientation and Ramsey’s work uses it to see not only the role of the central form in shaping its situation but also the situation’s role in shaping the central form. Each painting uses a central image to direct the narrative. In some works the narrative is iconic, using imagery abstracted from a range of cultural and historic sources including ancient Greece to vaudeville and Japanese prints. In others, Ramsey uses abstraction to reference a very different but ultimately similar lexicon of cultural, historical and philosophical references. In all the work, Ramsey asks us to look more acutely at the paintings, their associations, and ultimately ourselves.
Autumn Ramsey (b. 1976) lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Solo and group exhibitions include: Lucie Fontaine, Brendan Fowler, Gaylen Gerber, Autumn Ramsey, Night Club, Chicago, Illinois; Puppies Puppies presents Autumn Space Autumn Space, Autumn Space, Chicago, Illinois; Autumn Ramsey/Tyson Reeder, Actual Size, Los Angeles; Autumn Ramsey, Julius Caesar, Chicago, Illinois; Autumn Ramsey, The Green Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Michelle Grabner’s Never Quite Happy Home, Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; Rowley Kennerk Gallery, Chicago, Illinois.