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Andrew Kreps Gallery is pleased to announce Post Atlantic, the gallery’s first exhibition with the Oakland-based artist Dewey Crumpler (b. 1949, Magnolia, AK).

In his work, Crumpler employs a lexicon of motifs through which he examines how the systems of our globalized world both carry and alter meaning, as well as the felt traces of racial violence that are imbued within everyday life. An encounter with a documentary photograph of an item described as an African slave collar in the 1990s sparked an ongoing, decades long engagement with the object, often occurring in repeated and abstracted forms in dense compositions. First interested was the collar’s ovoid shape, which immediately suggested the absence of a body, or wearer, Crumpler later discovered the object’s original function as a sacred object employed in ritual ceremonies, which was only recast when brought to the New World. The collar would then become a bridge to investigate how the extraction of objects and concepts from their original context, and their subsequent appropriation and colonization, fundamentally alters their resonance and purpose - an inquiry that permeates the entirety of Crumpler’s practice.

Simultaneously, the hulking container ships that dominate Oakland’s port would emerge as a parallel project, as the stacked shipping containers both carry and conceal the apparatuses of commerce, often utilizing the same Transatlantic routes that emerged in the 15th century. These works, while representational in approach, similarly explore how these systems can be understood through abstraction, whether it be the vivid alternating colors of the containers, or the formal ridges of their corrugated exteriors which engage in a play of light and shadow. Often depicted as being in a state of peril, either crashed or burst open, they display the spoils of a commodity-based culture. These include bananas, meats, clothing, all items that while at first appear banal and familiar, often carry with them a history of exploitation that is obscured by the time they arrive at their destination. In new works, Crumpler has introduced an anthropomorphized, empty hoodie, which has been the subject of its own body of work since the 1990s, further investigating how the memory of an object merges with its present, to shape a new experience of time and reality.

Dewey Crumpler began his artistic career in the Bay Area in the 1960s. Having studied mural painting in Mexico alongside Pablo O’Higgins, and David Alfaro Siqueiros, in 1974, he was commissioned to paint the now-iconic murals at George Washington High School, which formed a direct response to Victor Arnautoff’s controversial “Life of Washington” works. In 2022, the Richmond Art Center organized Crossings, an expansive survey exhibition of Crumpler’s work including over 100 works. Additional past solo exhibitions include The Complete Hoodie Works, 1993–Present, Cushion Works San Francisco, 2021, and Of Tulips & Shadows, California African American Museum, 2008, among others. Crumpler’s works are held in the permanent collections of SFMoMA, San Francisco; The DeYoung Museum, San Francisco; the Oakland Museum of California; the Triton Museum of Art, CA; and the California African American Museum. From 1989 to 2022, Dewey Crumpler was a professor in the painting department at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he additionally taught classes on Jazz and African Studies.