The paintings of DeShawn Dumas revisit the historical gulf between the pictorial space of post-war abstraction and the theatrical literalism of Minimalist sculpture. His reflective ballistic monochromes conflate narcissistic visibility with self-reflexive contemplation on gun violence in general, if not the state-sponsored executions of unarmed Black citizens in particular. In this way, Dumas’ alluring paintings reference the sordid seduction of Western spectacle and our collective dissociation from what Joseph Beuys called the “death zone toward which today’s society is rushing with great speed.” In this lecture, Dumas traces his artistic development in relation to formal experimentation, dominant aesthetic discourse, critical ontology, and the historical present.
DeShawn Dumas is an AICAD Fellow at SFAI who graduated from Pratt Institute with an MFA in Painting and an MA in Art History in 2016. He is represented by Ethan Cohen New York and has been exhibited both domestically and internationally. His first solo museum exhibit, Black Light: Wake Work, debuts in 2019 at (MoAD) Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco.
Image: DeShawn Dumas, For Your Privilege It All Slips Into The Sea, 2018; glass and anodized spray paint on plexiglass, 39 x 22 inches. Courtesy of Ethan Cohen Fine Arts, NY.