Roberts & Tilton is pleased to present “Worlds in Collision”, an exhibition of new works by David Huffman. Combining modern African Diaspora, the aesthetics of science fiction, urban vernacular, and the idioms of abstraction, David Huffman’s paintings interrogate the politics of race through the increasingly subtle yet potent iconography of the basketball. Huffman uses the basketball, a readymade ingrained with its own vocabulary, as both an abstraction and spectrum to gauge the mutability of the present against the volatile presence of history.
Space, which once served as a formal backdrop for his expanse-traveling “traumanauts”, is now foregrounded within a multi-layered environment of expressionistic markings punctuated with glitter, spray paint, paint and colored pencil. Huffman’s process of utilizing basketball hoop netting as a relief lends an alluring ephemeral quality to the surface. The dynamic interplay between textures, materiality, and movement highlights the tension between figuration and soft edged abstraction. The end results are paintings that exude the phenomena of light and pattern, and explore the metaphorical within interconnectedness.
In certain paintings, Huffman deploys language as a formal material as one would a paintbrush. The text either lands in the front of the work, or recedes within, appearing only as the title. When visible, language plays a prominent role in dominating the canvas, simultaneously becoming synergistic with the physicality of the painting while forming its own objecthood within the two dimensional frame.
Both recognized and idealized as a signifier for the struggles and victories of black social uplift, the basketball makes tangible the dream for wealth, success, and acceptance. Huffman’s basketballs are densely duplicated and repeated unapologetically, bringing into sharp focus what is usually made invisible: those wielding the basketball.
Since the mid-1990s, Huffman has interrogated history and its traditions by engaging with themes of cultural acuity, political imbalances, racial conflict and power through controversial imagery. This exhibition highlights the trajectory of this practice as well as Huffman’s willingness to reframe and recontextualize the framework of his paintings over time.
David Huffman has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; Institute of Contemporary Art London, UK; and the Watts Tower Art Center, Los Angeles, CA. His work is in numerous public collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA; the Embassy of the United States Dakar Senegal; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; and the Studio Museum, Harlem, NY.