Beverly Semmes & Freddie Brice
This exhibition linking two artists from highly divergent backgrounds slips the paradigm between
insider and outsider by blurring such distinctions. Beverly Semmesʼ red totemic clay sculptures
inhabit an environment created by Freddie Briceʼs lively black and white interiors in a pairing
evoking the flatness of Matisseʼs “Red Studio” brought into three dimensions.
Semmesʼ freestanding sculptures range in size from 2 - 6 feet high and are painted in varying
shades of bright red and orange. Intensely visceral and gnarly, their earthiness is by turns exotic,
anthropomorphic, and primal. These large hand-built stacks of pots incorporate visible palm and
fingerprints, with wonderful negative spaces fabricated by multiple “handles.” As she has done
with her well known uninhabited and oversized dress sculptures, Semmes liberates her work from
convention by ignoring or stepping outside the hidebound rules and regulations of traditional craft.
After working in clay for over twenty years, this is the first exhibition of these vibrantly colored
towers from this internationally recognized mid-career artist who has been showing since 1990.
The paintings of Freddie Brice (1920-1998) are executed with a startling directness and
confidence, and are quintessentially urban, secular, reductive and immediate. Born in
Charleston, South Carolina, Brice moved to Harlem when he was nine. As an adult he was
intermittently employed, most significantly at the Brooklyn Navy Yard painting ships, before he
began making his own paintings in 1983. Depicting interiors, clocks, potted plants, and furniture
his renderings reduce complex scenes to a graphic essence, fusing a spontaneous approach to
expressive formalism. Interchanging light and dark and positive and negative with an
unpremeditated direct line to the unconscious, he boldly willed his private visions of domestic
mise-en-scenes into existence.
Straightforward and unfiltered, both artists approach art with assurance and vigor, united by
unmediated tactility in their respective mediums. The combination of Semmesʼ red organic spires
and Briceʼs black and white floating chairs, tables, and wristwatches generates an exuberant
relationship between form and content in a reciprocally revealing visual kinship.
Beverly Semmes (b. Washington, DC) is based in NYC and has been exhibiting since 1990. She
has had solo exhibitions at numerous international venues including the Hirshhorn Museum and
Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY, P.S.1/MoMA,
New York, NY, Sculpture Center, New York, NY, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia,
PA and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, Camden Arts Centre, London, Pecci
Museum, Prato, Italy; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin. A travelling solo exhibition of
her work is currently on view at the Knoxville Museum of Art, Knoxville, TN.
Freddie Brice (1920-1998). In 1991 Brice's work was first shown in the exhibition "Art's Mouth"
at Artists Space in New York which was curated by Connie Butler. Brice's work is in the
collections of: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Museum of Art and The Old
Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, The Museum of Everything, London. His last solo
exhibition in the spring 2010 at KS Art, New York received reviews in The New York Times, The
New Yorker and Timeout New York.