Charlie Alston: The Black Domestic, To Be Determined

M+B is pleased to present The Black Domestic, To Be Determined, an exhibition of new paintings by Charlie Alston. The exhibition runs from October 30 though November 28, 2020.


On Friday, October 30, the gallery will host an all-day opening reception from noon until 6pm. Visitors are required to wear masks, and capacity will be limited to no more than ten people at one time. 


In The Black Domestic, To Be Determined, Charlie Alston creates an illuminating exhibition of paintings centered around the status and imagination of Black Americans in the West. This is a space where the functions of luxury and resource meet the function of the multi-purpose room. A space where multiculturalism claims a permanent residence in the exploration of alternative ways of living. This layer of black existence, superimposed upon a system of white dominance, both threatens and depends on its entangled counterpart in order to exist. Alston presents this negotiation and confronts the motivations and realities of Black self-determinism.


Alston weaves together history and magical realism through historical reference, painted collage and phantom figuration. His paintings envelop the black figure in a color field of deep washes and flat planes that create a liminal reality, constantly in movement.


A recurring symbol found in Alston's work is the star, commonly grouped in fives. The star functions as a symbol of security, fortitude and the cosmos. Text plays a large compositional role, as a reference to the history of sign painting and screen-printing. Alston's historical references range from figures such as the eighth century Persian alchemist Jabir ibn Hayyan ("the father of modern chemistry") to architect Paul Revere Williams (master twentieth century architect) to the life and work of artist Jacob Lawrence. Alston employs these visual cues as points of departure both pictorially and rhetorically, ultimately amplifying the connections between our past and future.


Charlie Alston (b. 1997, San Francisco, CA) received his BFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2019, and M+B is hosting his first solo exhibition. Alston lives and works in Los Angeles.


Exhibition PDF


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