James Fuentes presents Jamaal Peterman, Grunch In Bed, the artist’s first solo exhibition in New York.
Jamaal Peterman has developed a highly encoded language of abstraction that ricochets inside of, between, and beyond the frame of the image. In this new body of work Peterman depicts the world as a global simulation. Illusionistic framing devices transform each painting into a portal through which ominous glitches in time, place, and scale occur. These works describe an interlocking system of abstract macro structures—representing legal giants, multinational corporations, massive algorithmic flows, and the weapons of destruction that protect them—across which a superimposed human figure sequentially moves. The problem of how to visually convey, in order to intercept, the invisible structures that historically dictate the format and flows of our world lies at the core of this project.
Peterman’s dazzling geometric abstraction illuminates an “absolute reality” in which color and form communicate hierarchies of space and movement as well as class and race. Central to Peterman’s landscape work is the artist’s reflection on how black and brown bodies navigate through urban space. Shades of black and brown encode certain elements in the paintings as representative of black bodies, communities, businesses, and ecosystems. Lines of connection run between these forms, while their quantity and direction suggest routes of access and exclusion, at once making reference to flows of information, the design of a circuit board, and processes of redlining. In this way, Peterman’s visual symbols are designed to aid in marking the time, history, and spaces that black bodies have continually navigated and constructed. Resembling sidewalks, bricks, or building facades, textured sections of each canvas are embedded with expressionistic marks and symbols that act as possible cheat codes for entering the image. Just like a handprint or name pressed into sidewalk cement, these tactile details represent memory and the disappearance of physical identity.
The title of the exhibition refers to R. Buckminister Fuller’s allegorical final book, Grunch of Giants (1983), in which he argues that humanity would be better off imagining its future beyond the unsustainable limitations and domination of the Gross Universal Cash Heist (GRUNCH) that we find ourselves within. With Grunch In Bed, Peterman not only encodes and decodes the invisible forces that reproduce the landscape of our world; he does so in order to present alternative visions of this landscape by simultaneously interrupting and taking hold of the fundamental concepts of structure, visibility, information, flow, and time that the body must move through in order to transform it.
Jamaal Peterman (b. 1990, Fort Lauderdale, FL; lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) received his BFA from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2014) and his MFA at Pratt Institute (2019). Most recently, he undertook residencies at MASS MoCA, Wassaic Project Residency, and Fountainhead Residency. Peterman has presented work in numerous solo and group exhibitions within the US. Grunch In Bed follows Peterman’s presentation of paintings on paper through James Fuentes Online in November 2020, Tales from the Hood.