Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning

Jamal Cyrus: The End of My Beginning is the first museum survey of Houston-based multidisciplinary artist Jamal Cyrus (b. 1973), and the artist’s first presentation in Los Angeles. Spanning nearly two decades, the exhibition provides an unparalleled opportunity to trace the trajectory of Cyrus’s practice, following his work as a founding member of the pioneering collective Otabenga Jones & Associates to the present. The End of My Beginning includes approximately 50 works in assemblage, textiles, sculpture, and installation by Cyrus, including mixed media works using an eclectic array of materials such as paper, graphite, papyrus, and denim, produced over the past sixteen years.

Cyrus’s expansive practice explores the evolution of African American identity within Black political movements and the African diaspora. He is especially attuned to the cultural cross-pollination and hybridity that emerged from cross-border interactions in historical eras — from Ancient Egypt and the sixteenth century transatlantic slave trade to the Jazz Age of the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights movements of the 1960s. His aesthetic combines an enduring interest in music and record shops with an expansive array of materials—from drum kits, vinyl records, and conch shells to muslin, wax, papyrus, denim, and Kente cloth. In doing so, Cyrus’s vexing contemporary artifacts commemorate and question iconic figures and the understanding of historical events. The ensuing objects, installations, and actions cobble a patchwork lineage where the cumulative historical acts of silencing through edits, redactions, assassinations, and omissions become hauntingly and urgently present, forging a chronicle of histories lost and found.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated color catalogue designed and co-published by Inventory Press, featuring essays by the exhibition’s curator, Steven Matijcio, Director and Chief Curator, Blaffer Art Museum; Grace Deveney, Associate Curator of Photography, Art Institute of Chicago; writer and editor Ciarán Finlayson; Jamillah James, former Senior Curator, ICA LA; writer and independent curator Ana Tuazon; and an interview with the artist conducted by Dr. Alvia Wardlaw, Director and Curator, University Museum at Texas Southern University, Houston.

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