Sherwin Ovid: Breath Between Ledgers Measured

"Thinking about the idea of breath and of breathing enabled me to sink my teeth into my work from a new angle that I really wasn't considering before. How breath functions in our contemporary moment in terms of the pandemic and how that relates to the way in which I'm also thinking about George Floyd and the protests and uprising in terms of that phrase, 'I can't breathe." I feel like that those two things seem to be intertwined here in regards to the issue of health care into ideas of Care that are bigger in terms of, you know, community and the fabric of our relations and the ways that police are kind of tasked with trying to somehow shore up the places where governance should be taking responsibility for providing or allocating funds that are actually our funds, our money, our tax money- into this idea of care. But instead the way that the police are meant to actually "take care of things" that they don't have the capacity to do.  I'm not saying that all this is really front-loaded in my work per se, but those are the thoughts that are generating both the title of this show and the way that I'm going about making this work."

Goldfinch is pleased to present a new solo exhibition in Gallery 1 by Chicago-based artist Sherwin Ovid, on view from July 10th – August 29th. “Breath Between Ledgers Measured” is Ovid’s second exhibition with Goldfinch.

Born in Trinidad, Ovid’s multi-disciplinary works explore diaspora, hybridity and the aesthetics of migration and migratory forms. His new paintings and drawings in “Breath Between Ledgers Measured” draw from the nautical Afrofuturist mythology of Drexciya, the Detroit-based electronic music duo of James Stinson (1969 – 2002) and Gerald Donald active during the late nineties and early ‘aughts. Over the course of numerous albums and projects, Drexciya developed a complex mythic narrative about the Drexciyan people, descendants of the children of enslaved African women thrown overboard during the Atlantic crossing, who subsequently developed the ability to breathe and live under water.

Although still primarily abstract, these works are populated by gel-transfer images of sea monsters that, along with the mythologies of Drexciya, reference the practice of medieval map-makers to indicate uncharted and potentially dangerous territories by way of sea monsters and other fantastic creatures.  For Ovid, the images relate these pieces to his earlier paintings and drawings, whose surfaces often contain bubbles, made from a mixture of soap, cephalopod ink, adhesives, and the artist’s own breath. “It’s about being in an uninhabitable space and then me using my own breath and thinking about using my breath, and theorizing breath as a medium for the drawing process,” he explains. “I’m thinking about breath also as being measured, and having a certain kind of pressure placed on it based on our current predicament, which has made breath into something really precarious.”

Ovid earned his B.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Currently, he teaches as an adjunct associate professor at Northwestern University and at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This past year, he contributed artwork to Lena Waithe’s Showtime drama The Chi and was commissioned to make a set of original artworks featured in the Jordan Peele-produced remake of the movie Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta. He has also participated in group shows at the Chicago Cultural Center; the Lubeznik Center for the Arts; UIS Visual Arts Gallery; 6018North; Gallery 400; Prison Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP); the University of Wisconsin; the Cleve Carney Art Gallery; Julius Caesar; the Haitian American Museum of Chicago and Iceberg Projects. He has appeared twice in the juried publication New American Paintings (Midwest #149, August/September 2020, and MFA Annual #123, April/May 2016) and was named a “Breakout Artist” by New City magazine in 2018. A solo show titled “Blanch Jet Maneuvers” will take place at Demon Leg Gallery in East Harlem, NY.