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David Hammons Unveils Thought-Provoking Works Made of "Basketballs & Kool-Aid"

Exploring racial stereotypes, prejudices, and identities.

David Hammons is having a moment, a New York one at that. Following the unveiling of his permanent Day’s End sculpture at the Hudson River Park near the Whitney Museum and a survey of the artist’s body prints at the Drawing Center, Hammons is now displaying thought-provoking works at Nahmad Contemporary. As part of an exhibition entitled “Basketball & Kool-Aid,” the artist developed a selection of pieces made using ragged basketballs sourced from New York’s Harlem neighborhood and Kool-aid that draw upon his personal experiences as Black man while touching on racial stereotypes, prejudices, and identities in the United States.

For the basketball works, Hammons bounced basketballs against dirt and dribbled them on paper to create swirling forms that recall Abstract Expressionist compositions. Each framed work on paper is paired with found objects. For instance, his Traveling 2002 piece, is concealed inside a suitcase that references the game’s violation of the same name. The Kool-Aid works are also abstract and subvert the perceptions of onlookers. These pieces were made using the popular flavored drink mix and feature Japanese writing done by the artist’s wife. Several of these are paired with veils that can be peeled back by visitors to see more of their details.

“Through unconventional artistic methods and media, both series evoke powerful political associations while demonstrating the artist’s ingenuity. The brilliance of these “sculptural” drawings, offering cultural symbolism and contemplative connotations, resides in their subtlety and elusiveness that ultimately provokes curious and reflective inquiry about the practices and beliefs shaping our identities,” said the gallery in a statement.

“David Hammons: Basketball & Kool-Aid” is on view at Nahmad Contemporary through June 25.

Nahmad Contemporary
980 Madison Ave
Third Floor
New York, NY 10075