Explore Wardell Milan: Death, Wine, Revolt

2014/2020 202 Bay St., Staten Island, 2020
charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, pastel, cut and pasted paper on two inkjet prints, 42-3/4 x 43-3/4 inches (each, framed) [108.6 x 111.1 cm]

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present new work by Wardell Milan. The gallery’s second solo show of the New York-based artist will be on view from October 29, 2020 to January 15, 2021. The exhibition features Milan’s ongoing series “Death, Wine, Revolt,” which combines photography, drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture to explore themes of over-indulgence, destruction, and revolution. While earlier series such as “Parisian Landscapes” looked inward, to personal questions of freedom and desire, Milan made the works on view in response to the turmoil of the global moment. 

Wardell Milan speaks with Elena Gross of the Museum of the African Diaspora about the work in his current exhibition, Death, Wine, Revolt.
Duration: 00:56:23
1848, Venice, 2019, 2020
charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, pastel, cut and pasted paper on inkjet print, 41-3/4 x 61 inches (framed) [111.1 x 154.9 cm]

In several large-scale works, Milan uses enlargements of his own photographs of specific locations—the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Martin Luther King was assassinated, or the city of Venice—setting his images in dialogue with historical sites of racist violence or political rebellion. Populating the works are a range of human figures, often nude, whose bodies are pieced together from fractured drawings and photographs, and overlaid with blue and white paint. Some groupings suggest erotic coupling or violent encounters, and many arrangements are based on photographic sources.

Wardell Milan’s Studio, 2020
Here the mysterious host— raised in the South, now based in the North curates a gathering of friends seeking sanctuary, 2020
charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, pastel, cut and pasted paper on inkjet print, 51 x 60 inches (framed) [129 x 152 cm]
Be a good boy and put this on, 2020
charcoal, graphite, acrylic paint, color pencil, pastel, oil pastel, china marker, yupo paper, Polaroid film, cut-and-pasted paper on inkjet print, 43-1/8 x 61-1/8 inches (framed) [109.5 x 155.3 cm]

In 2020, Los Feliz, Los Angeles, Milan positions five figures in white Ku Klux Klan hoods against his own photograph of the city’s hills. The arrangement of bodies is based on a found image of a Klan social gathering, and presents the white nationalists in a bland, contemporary California suburb. In The Parade, the arrangement of figures echoes Diane Arbus’s Untitled (7), from her final body of work made in a home for the developmentally disabled in New Jersey.

Wardell Milan in Studio © Wardell Milan
Duration: 00:00:33
The Parade, 2020
charcoal, graphite, oil pastel, pastel, cut and pasted paper on hand-dyed paper, 62 x 100 inches (framed) [158 x 255 cm]
The Parade, 2020 [detail]
Wardell Milan, The Parade, 2020 [detail]
What Happens to the Seeds that the Birds Won’t Eat?, 2020
cut paste paper, charcoal, graphite, pastel, oil pastel on inkjet print, 41-3/4 x 61-1/8 inches (framed) [111.1 x 155.3 cm]
Wardell Milan’s Studio, 2020
Spencer, 2020
plaster, polyurethane, foam with custom tulip poplar and African paduk pedestal, 37 x 17 x 13 inches (sculpture) [94 x 43.2 x 33 cm]; 50 x 25 x 21 inches (pedestal) [127 x 63.5 x 53.3 cm]

Also on view are a selection of smaller works, including white-on-white cut paper collages depicting hooded Klansmen, and paintings from Milan’s ongoing series of tulips. While earlier flower paintings were inspired by the 17th-century Dutch tulip craze, the new works deconstruct the flowers, transforming them into chaotic arrangements of petals and leaves, hinting at the dissolutions the past year has wrought. 

Amerika: Klansmen, Spencer and Boon, 2020
cut and pasted paper, 17-1/4 x 16-7/8 inches (framed) [43.8 x 42.9 cm]
Amerika: Klansman, Patty, 2020
cut and pasted printed paper, 18-5/8 x 14-1/4 inches framed [47.3 x 36.2 cm]
Wayne Hopkins, 2020
cut and pasted paper, charcoal, graphite, and color pencil, 17 x 14-1/8 inches (framed) [43.2 x 35.9 cm]
Untitled (Landscape, Tennessee), 2020
cut and pasted paper, Untitled (Landscape, Tennessee)
Untitled (Tulip, Tennessee no. 4), 2020
oil, charcoal, graphite, pastel & china marker on panel, 31-1/2 x 41-1/2 inches (framed) [80 x 105.4 cm]
Untitled, (Tulip, Tennessee no. 5), 2020
oil, charcoal, graphite, pastel & china marker, 32 x 41-1/2 inches (framed) [81.3 x 105.4 cm]
Wardell Milan’s Studio, 2020
Wardell Milan in studio
Duration: 00:05:42

Ask About the Works in this Exhibition