ART REVIEW — Vaughn Spann: The Heat Lets us Know We’re Alive

46Y
Vaughn Spann, The Heat Lets us Know We’re Alive, 2020, Installation view, Almine Rech. All images © the gallery and the artist(s)
57U
Vaughn Spann, The Heat Lets us Know We’re Alive, 2020, Installation view, Almine Rech. All images © the gallery and the artist(s)
35T
Vaughn Spann, ‘Basking in the Wind’, 2019

In his first solo exhibition at the Almine Rech gallery just two years after graduating from Art School, Vaughn Spann presents twelve vivid and distinct paintings that appear as standalone works, but that are also inextricably linked through the theme of ‘heat’. The Heat Lets us Know We’re Alive can be divided into three broad explorations: striking dual headed portraiture, abstract X pieces and experimental textural works; all in vivid, bold colours set against black – seemingly a preferred combination of the artist – in order to enhance and explore contrast. While some of the more abstract pieces can be perceived as conceptual, rather than the figurative appearance of the portraiture, Spann uses a variety of universal symbols to draw his work together so that the viewer can relate to them in some way.

The idea of ‘heat’ is what brings these works together as a collection. Spann himself has talked about the fact that heat is representative of a variety of different emotions: from anger to passion, and everything in between and that it is the ‘merging [of] the mind, body and soul.’ Through this, the collection explores a range of human emotions and reactions to some of the images and symbols presented in the exhibition. The combination of the figurative and conceptual only goes further towards exploring these human emotions. Abstract Xs and their associated connotations displayed alongside the American flag, as well as the slightly disruptive dual-headed figures, alongside various animals in bold, vivid colours all draw together to question the viewer and their feelings about what they are seeing. Moreover, the use of mixed media and various styles emphasise that despite our differences, it is these emotions that bring us together as a species; the title of the exhibition itself reminding us that it is these emotions that ‘let us know we’re alive’.

 


Vaughn Spann
The Heat Lets us Know We’re Alive
Almine Rech
39 East 78th Street, 2nd Floor, New York
 —