from Grunch in Bed by Jamaal Peterman


Selected by Kendra Allen


Jamaal Peterman has developed a highly encoded language of abstraction that ricochets inside of, between, and beyond the frame of the image. Peterman’s dazzling geometric abstraction illuminates an “absolute reality” in which color and form communicate hierarchies of space and movement as well as class and race. Central to Peterman’s landscape work is the artist’s reflection on how black and brown bodies navigate through urban space. Shades of black and brown encode certain elements in the paintings as representative of black bodies, communities, businesses, and ecosystems.

Lines of connection run between these forms, while their quantity and direction suggest routes of access and exclusion, at once making reference to flows of information, the design of a circuit board, and processes of redlining. In this way, Peterman’s visual symbols are designed to aid in marking the time, history, and spaces that black bodies have continually navigated and constructed. Resembling sidewalks, bricks, or building facades, textured sections of each canvas are embedded with expressionistic marks and symbols that act as possible cheat codes for entering the image. Just like a handprint or name pressed into sidewalk cement, these tactile details represent memory and the disappearance of physical identity.