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Ferrari Sheppard: Positions of Power

April 16, 2021 - May 15, 2021

Gallery space with polished concrete floor, geometric white walls under a curved wood ceiling, upheld by exposed wood support beams. Five paintings populate three walls, each striking, full-body portraits of Black individuals, some standing together in groups, some lounging on living room furniture. A long wooden bench stretches out in the middle of the space, next two zebra-print carpets.

UTA Artist Space is pleased to present Positions of Power, a solo exhibition of new paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist Ferrari Sheppard, on view from April 16 through May 15, 2021. The ambitious presentation fills all three of the gallery’s exhibition spaces with emotional portraits of influential cultural figures such as Jimi Hendrix and Tupac Shakur, as well as the artist’s friends and family. The exhibition is accompanied by an essay by Kristina Kay Robinson, whose writing and ideas are reflected in this release.

“Ferrari Sheppard is a creative force to be reckoned with—his paintings have a boldness that electrifies the space they hold. He has emerged as a poignant voice in contemporary painting and we are honored to share this new body of work at UTA Artist Space,” said Arthur Lewis, UTA Fine Arts and UTA Artist Space Creative Director.

Blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, Sheppard creates mid to large-scale paintings depicting cultural figures and friends in the Black community. He incorporates gold leaf, adding a religious iconographical effect throughout his pieces, catching light and accentuating the presence of certain figures in his work. The large acrylic color, charcoal, and velvet on canvas paintings entail a sense of movement through the colors and brushstroke used, allowing the viewer to feel immersed in the painting.

In UTA Artist Space’s front gallery, Michele Lamy, co-founding partner and Executive Manager Art/Furniture Owenscorp, is pleased to participate in Positions of Power by presenting a Rick Owens Furniture 3 Prong Bench in Elm. This bench was initially shown at Rick Owens Furniture, MOCA 2016. The back gallery has been transformed into a shrine – hanging above a gold floor is an image of contemporary iconicity: a polaroid of Tupac.

Positions of Power is a summation of an era. Vibrant, plush and tender, these paintings are love letters to those who carried the weight of the “war on drugs” and risked it all in pursuit of humanity and economic freedom in the United States of America. A reclamation for a generation maligned for profit by the criminal justice system, Positions of Power is also for the survivors—a reverie for the onlooker. A chance to remember those once previously held. Those whose memory sustains us in the aftermath.

In the carefully rendered and emotional portraits with the edge of a deconstructionist, Ferrari Sheppard continues his work in abstract expressionism. Interspersed with his own unique sense of figuration, a new visual language emerges to tell the story of this era from the point of view of someone who experienced it. The work in this show extracts the soft and unguarded moments from decades of tragedy, enshrining them in gold, under careful layers of acrylic, setting them into history with bold strokes.

This Spring, UTA Artist Space will also present a series of virtual exhibitions, including Glenn Hardy this month and Nathan Wong next, and a physical solo exhibition featuring Manny Castroin May.

Blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration, the contemporary artist Ferrari Sheppard creates mid to large-scale paintings celebrating the humanity of Black people in the Americas and within the diaspora. The Los Angeles based artist was born in Chicago and lived in various cities in Africa. His paintings are influenced by memories and lived experience, evoking a sense of nostalgia.

Sheppard’s approach to figuration heralds a new visual language, with large acrylic, charcoal, and 24k gold on canvas conveying movement and emotion through his confident brushstrokes and distinctive use of color. His abstract practice brings forth irregularities in each work giving the viewer a sense of activity and excitement. Evocative titles are used in a poetic manner to reflect deeper meanings and cultural references. The abstracted figures are created with an intuitive balance between subtle idiosyncrasies and intentional opacity, holding space for the complexity and expansiveness within each individual being.

UTA Artist Space is an exhibition venue designed by Ai Weiwei in the heart of Beverly Hills that is committed to showcasing art by globally recognized talent. Over the past few months, UTA Artist Space exhibited several virtual shows including Revolutionizing the Systems We’re Transcending, Thread of Existence, Eighteen Hundred Roses; The Voice of Grief, In Cahoots: Artists and Curators at USC Roski, Class of 2020: At Such A Time As This, Everyday is Sunday, In the Time of and Renaissance: Noir, as well as physical exhibitions How We Hold It All Together, Liberating Humanity From Within, Emergency On Planet Earth: In A Time Close To Now, I Guess by Now I’m Supposed to Be a Man: I’m Just Trying to Leave Behind Yesterday, Disembodiment, Dark Fantasy, Dreamweavers and more on-site at UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills. Additionally, UTA Artist Space launched Artist Projects, an ongoing series of virtual collaborations with artists such as Shantell Martin and Iva Gueorguieva on the UTA Artist Space website.

Since its establishment in 2016, UTA Artist Space has presented notable exhibitions with interdisciplinary artists and creatives, including Derrick Adams, Myrtis Bedolla of Galerie Myrtis, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Essence Harden, Larry Clark, Petra Cortright, Conrad Egyir, Amanda Hunt, Mariane Ibrahim, Arcmanoro Niles, The Carpenter’s Workshop Gallery, The Haas Brothers, and Ai Weiwei, among others. UTAArtistSpace.com.

Visiting the Artist Space is by appointment only, with a four-guest maximum at any time. All visitors will have to acknowledge via the online appointment system both the health and safety guidelines and their health status before they visit. All visitors must wear a mask at all times. Masks and hand sanitizer will be available on site for guest usage. All guests will have a 30-minute window for viewing the gallery. Guests will not be permitted to the gallery before or after their viewing time. If they arrive earlier, they will be asked to wait in their car until their appointment time. Guests must practice social distancing. There is ample signage throughout the space including arrows on the floor that tell guests which way foot traffic is flowing. Restrooms will be closed to guests and the Artist Space will be deep cleaned on a regular schedule following the close of business each day.


UTA Artist Space
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BIPOC-curated, BIPOC artist(s), Women curated
Event Type
Gallery, Visual Art
Pandemic Info
By Appointment


UTA Artist Space
403 Foothill Rd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210 United States
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