Luchita Hurtado / Faith Ringgold review: Veterans of vivid art show off their true colours
June 11, 2019 - Evening Standard, Ben Luke
These shows are surveys of long lives — the combined age of Hurtado and Ringgold is 186. Neither has had a UK solo show before.
Hurtado’s work was barely known until 2015, when curators cataloguing the work of her husband, Lee Mullican, found another artist’s paintings. Not even her family knew the depth and breadth of her paintings, often made at night.
Hurtado hid it from many art world luminaries she met, too, from Marcel Duchamp to Frida Kahlo, in a life that reads like a magic realist novel. There’s remarkable work, particularly from the Seventies: paintings looking across the landscape of her naked body to her hands, smoking, or fruit, or vividly decorative rugs; and two bodies of word-based paintings, one dense and colourful, the other white and open.
While Hurtado’s best work is concentrated into that relatively short period, Faith Ringgold’s is relentlessly powerful across her career. From her early paintings — the American People series, reflecting on racial injustice and the civil rights struggle and Black Light, focusing on painterly colour and black identity — to her quilt paintings, weaving together personal stories with African American history, this show is both harrowing and joyous.
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