David Hammons at L&M Arts on the Upper East Side, FINAL WEEK

A painting on the wall covered with torn garbage bags by artist David Hammons

About five years ago the New York City artist David Hammons put on one of our all-time favorite gallery exhibitions, called Body Prints, at Tilton on 76th Street. He also contributed several sculptural pieces to the remarkable L.A. Object group show just upstairs. It was all powerful stuff, highly charged and urban and political, informed by the Black experience in America, from an artist who doesn't make too many appearances. This month David Hammons returns to the Upper East Side, to L&M Arts just off Madison, on 78th Street, and once again he's totally blown us away. On display only through next Saturday, the 26th of February, this David Hammons exhibition at L&M Arts is a pretty much a must, and will undoubtedly be part of the contemporary art conversation for years to come.


A room with 3 paintings, 2 with torn garbage bags over the artwork and one with a shelf blocking it all at L&M Arts in NYC

David Hammons's technique here is fairly straightforward: the artist has created a dozen large, abstract paintings, heavy with brush strokes and often composed in a bright and lively palette, that he then almost completely covers over with, basically, street trash. Shredded plastic garbage bags and ripped and soiled industrial tarps are draped over several, with only a few holes allowing the painting beneath to peek through. A decrepit wooden wardrobe is shoved up against one painting, showing its scratched and splintered back to the gallery-goer, almost completely blocking our view. In our own personal favorite piece, a ratty old terry cloth towel has been pressed and glued onto the canvas, seemingly while the paint was still wet. And one piece on L&M's second floor appears ONLY to be a layering of torn plastic tarpaulins, with no "real art" underneath. 

David Hammons artwork a painting with burlap covering up the majority of the piece

So: you get what David Hammons is saying right away, and the temptation, perhaps, is to fly through the exhibition. But we suggest you take some time, and let David Hammons's remarkable work sear your psyche for a little bit. The longer we looked, the more we felt Hammons's contempt, and isolation, and rage. This is a great art show, and, like the one in 2006, one we're unlikely to forget. 

A painting covered with layers of dirty clear plastic at L&M Arts on Madison Ave

David Hammons at L&M Arts Details 

The David Hammons NYC exhibition is on diplay at L&M Arts through Saturday, February 26th. L&M Arts is located on the Upper East Side, on 78th Street between Madison and Park, and is open on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. More more information, please see the L&M Arts website.  

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