Massimo De Carlo Gallery, Milan, Italy.
April 5 – May 18, 2013
For his first solo exhibition at Massimo De Carlo, Sanford Biggers presents Sugar, Pork, Bourbon, a series of new works that are a synthesis of his artistic and cultural path to date. At the centre of the Sanford Biggers’ exhibition are the quilts, patchwork textiles on which the artist paints and sews decorative motifs and complex systems of strongly symbolic images. The quilts are believed to be tools of communication used by the escaped American slaves in the 19th Century to communicate with one another on their journey to freedom on the Underground Railroad. The quilts were hung at “stations”, outside houses and on the façades of churches in the Deep South. Sanford Biggers amplifies these topics by painting symbolic elements like the lotus flower, which comes from Japanese figurative tradition. In Biggers’ hands the lotus petals which usually represent transcendence and tranquillity instead are diagrams of cross sections of slave ships, illustrating the most efficient method of shipping slaves from Africa to the New Continent.
In Sanford Biggers’ world the floating cotton cloud sculptures become a symbol of newfound freedom challenging the levity of the material versus the gravity of the slave experience.