rennie museum is pleased to present the exhibition Barkley L. Hendricks and Lorna Simpson: Collected Works. This is the first major presentation of each artist in Canada and marks the first time the two acclaimed figures have exhibited together. Drawn from the rennie collection, the exhibition includes works that span a combined 50 years of both artists’ practices. Originally opened on February 8, 2020, the exhibition closed after a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It reopens on September 11, 2021 and will run until October 30.

Covering a gamut of mediums, the exhibition demonstrates how both Hendricks and Simpson utilize the range of photography, painting, drawing, collage and installation to provocatively contest assumptions about subjectivity, gender, identity and history. The exhibition provides insight and contextualize iconic pieces for which both artists are renowned, and also mark pivotal moments in their practice.

Barkley L. Hendricks, Self Portrait (1977)

The spectrum of Barkley L. Hendricks works on display highlights his skill as a painter and traces the development of his techniques throughout his career, reaching back to a rarely seen flag painting, Untitled (1967-1968), made during his formative years as a student. Brilliantly Endowed (1977), his iconic life-size, nude self portrait commands attention in its size and realism, and exemplifies Hendricks’s singular ability to capture the confident, self-assured persona and essence of his subjects. Without being overtly political, Hendricks balances the traditional Western-European representation, or lack of representation, of black figures with his portrayal of the dignity, complexity and individualistic style of his subjects. Rendered with equal insight and appreciation are a series of watercolour and graphite works illustrating the banality and singularity of bananas and a grouping of 14 landscape paintings depicting the beauty of Jamaica. Such plurality of subject matter and media demonstrate that Hendricks’ distinct approach to portraiture extends to the world as he experienced it, inviting viewers to explore the lived beauty he intrinsically infused in his work.

Lorna Simpson, 1957-2009 (detail) (2009)

Once best known for conceptual photography, collage and film works, through the last three decades Lorna Simpson has continually expanded her oeuvre and today is now heralded also for painting, sculpture and installation. On view will be her first paintings ever released—five large-scale pieces which debuted in the 2015 Venice Biennale—and her renowned black and white photographs 1957-2009 (2009). In this monumental set of 307 photographs, Simpson intersperses found photos taken in 1957 of a black woman in pin-up poses, and an occasional male, alongside photos of her own staged re-enactment. Splendidly extensive and boldly scaled, these works impel contemplation of the process of visual consumption—how fact and fiction can be mediated by creator and audience, and by deeply ingrained cultural biases. The current exhibition will also unveil The matter of the bracelet, 2020 a major new work. Commissioned for the show, the gleaming installation, the largest of Simpson’s recent gold-plated bronze sculptures, comprises 5,000 individual shimmering elements that extend more than 9 metres (30 ft) up the museum wall.

This exhibition provides opportunity to consider new perspectives on the works of Barkley L. Hendricks and Lorna Simpson. Simpson carefully deconstructs and reconstructs reality to subvert traditional notions of identity and experience. In recognizing the flaws and exclusivity of representation in our society, Hendricks refused to be labelled or politicized and instead emphasized his passion for painting. Both provide an alternative view on the way the dominant narrative can and should be questioned, opening up a dialogue on the categorization and codification of the body in American culture and history, and also the cultural subjectivity imposed on the African American artist.

Barkley L. Hendricks (USA, b. 1945, d. 2017) was a painter, photographer and pioneer of conceptualism. By simply depicting his view of the world, and especially the black figure, he expanded our understanding of it. His 2008 retrospective opened at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina; traveling to the Studio Museum, New York; Santa Monica Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston. His work was prominently shown in 2018 at the Prospect.4 Triennial, New Orleans, and in the current major traveling exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983 at Tate Modern, London; Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Arkansas; Brooklyn Museum of Art; The Broad, Los Angeles; de Young Museum, San Francisco; and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Lorna Simpson (USA, b. 1960) is a photographer and multi-disciplinary artist whose work explores the nature of representation, gender, race and history. She is one of the earliest African American women to exhibit at the Venice Biennale and have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art. In addition to exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Irish Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney and the Studio Museum, New York; her retrospective opened in 2013 at Jeu de Paume, Paris then travelled to Haus der Kunst, Munich, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, UK and Addison Gallery of American Art, Massachusetts. Her work is held in numerous leading public collections and she was most recently recognized with the J. Paul Getty Medal in 2019 in honor of her extraordinary contributions to the practice, understanding and support of the arts.

rennie museum opened in October 2009 in historic Wing Sang, the oldest structure in Vancouver’s Chinatown, to feature dynamic exhibitions comprising only of art drawn from Rennie Collection. Showcasing works by international artists, the exhibits, accompanied by supporting catalogues, are open free to the public through engaging guided tours. The museum’s commitment to providing access to arts and culture is also expressed through its education program, which offers free age-appropriate tours and customized workshops to children of all ages.

rennie collection is a leading collection of contemporary art that focuses on issues related to identity, social commentary and injustice, appropriation, the nature of painting, photography, sculpture and film. International in exposure, the collection supports both emerging and established artists, with over 50 artists collected in depth and more than 400 artists in total. A robust lending program ensures the Vancouver-based collection is shared across the globe through numerous loans to, and collaborations with, institutions and various arts organizations.