Lehmann Maupin presents A Moment Alone in the Shade, an exhibition of new works on paper by New York-based artist Arcmanoro Niles, marking the artist's third solo show with the gallery and his first exhibition exclusively of works on paper.
Throughout this body of work, Niles represents quiet moments that linger in memory: a man embracing his small children, a couple kissing through a car window, a man playing a guitar outside. The artist depicts vivid and often deeply personal scenes, and across the exhibition, he shows individuals in various moments of relaxation and reflection, whether engaging with loved ones or exploring passions. Charting a record of contemporary existence that is simultaneously intimate and collective, the artist makes his own formative experiences keenly communicable to others, prompting moments of empathy, understanding, and self-reflection for his viewers.
The works in the exhibition are inspired by photographs from the artist's personal archive. Drawn from a variety of sources including family photo-albums and snapshots taken on an old cellphone, Niles' drawings revisit these source images to capture both the essence of a moment and the passage of time. As the artist represents and responds to moments in time that have long since elapsed, he reckons with their long afterlives, reconciling memory and meaning in a single image.
While perhaps best known for his large-scale figurative paintings in bold colors, Niles has recently turned also to creating works on paper, relishing the medium for its immediacy and emotional intimacy. In these newest works, Niles for the first time creates a colored ground, and he often leaves large portions of the hued surface unfilled. In his strategic activation of negative space, the artist demonstrates a keen sensitivity to the emotional landscape of everyday life and the critical absences that define human experience.
Across these works and throughout his practice, Niles titles his work to evoke poetic associations. Image and text emerge simultaneously, each informing the other. While previous bodies of work deployed more oblique titles, many of the works in A Moment Alone in the Shade disclose themselves more directly to the viewer. For example, Jack and Coke in My Grandfather's Car (It's Never Nothing Like the First Time) (2023), divulges names and places even as it remains invested in poetic suggestion.
A Moment Alone in the Shade demonstrates a quiet yet crucial shift in the artist's practice. Niles mines the complexities of memory and personal history, representing contemporary life with newfound vulnerability.
Press release courtesy Lehmann Maupin.