The Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC) is delighted to present Abstract Explosion: The Art of Danny Simmons and TAFA, curated by John Guess, Jr. The exhibition will be presented in two of the Museum’s three galleries from October 1 through December 17, 2021.
Abstract Explosion: The Art of Danny Simmons and TAFA includes a collection of works by Danny Simmons made during the 2020 pandemic. These newer works chart his practice during stay-at-home orders, when he threw himself fully into his studio practice to create beauty and hope during these continuing uncertain times.
He has previously described his work as “neo-African abstract expressionism,” and a lot of the art in the exhibition has African influences. According to Simmons, the influence is not simply about race. “I realized,” he has said, “great artists like Picasso and Dali got their inspiration from African art. I decided to go to the source and see what they saw. I went directly to African art and started to get inspiration from there.”
For the curator, pairing Simmons and TAFA was a no-brainer. “It is not just the artists’s mutual connection to African influences,” according to Guess, “but their mutual understanding of the spirituality underpinning their use of color, of textiles, and for both of them a love of patterns.” But while Simmons’ paintings and works on paper offer intricate mazes taking the viewer into dimensions of the artist’s inner world, TAFA reflects an external world that includes music, socio-political issues, and sports themes.
His sport art is contemporary, powerful, and unique, marked by the visual characteristics and themes that he has become identified with as an artist: joy in movement and life energy, spiritual awareness, celebration of striving for excellence, diversity with harmony. Even more pronounced in his “protest” pieces is his lifetime of exposure to one of Africa’s cultural gems, the exquisite hand woven Ashanti and Ewe textiles of Ghana called kente cloths. “You see the kente influence in the thick oil paints he applies by palette knife,” Guess said, “and in the strong designs often laid down in horizontal strips that resemble the cloth.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public during our museum hours, beginning 11am Friday, October 1. Due to the number of cases of the Delta Variant of the Coronavirus, and for the safety of our patrons, there will be no opening reception.
Abstraction Explosion is generously sponsored by the Houston Endowment, HEB, Jones Walker LLP, and the Board of Directors of the Houston Museum of African American Culture.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON MUSEUM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE
The mission of HMAAC is to collect, conserve, explore, interpret, and exhibit the material and intellectual culture of Africans and African Americans in Houston, the state of Texas, the southwest and the African Diaspora for current and future generations. In fulfilling its mission, HMAAC seeks to invite and engage visitors of every race and background and to inspire children of all ages through discovery-driven learning. HMAAC is to be a museum for all people. While our focus is the African American experience, our story informs and includes not only people of color, but people of all colors. As a result, the stories and exhibitions that HMAAC will bring to Texas are about the indisputable fact that while our experience is a unique one, it has been impacted by and has impacted numerous races, genders and ethnicities. The museum continues to be a space where a multicultural conversation on race geared toward a common future takes place.
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