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Baga, Nalu, Landuma, Pakur, or Bulunits Guinea, 20th century

About Gaylen Gerber

Gaylen Gerber creates what he calls “backdrops” or “supports,” in effect producing paintings that serve as contextual grounds for another artist’s work. His artworks are typically large monochromatic canvases on wooden stretchers that mimic exhibition walls, often matching their color and size. The work critiques institutional settings and raises questions about authorship. The artist and curator Michelle Grabner wrote that Gerber’s work “has always confused the ‘seeing’ of visual images and the ‘evidence’ of visual images.” Gerber’s suggestion is that an artwork is not inherently meaningful, but that its meaning emerges from its relationship and placement in an environment. “There’s an unseen norm that structures the way that expression is constructed, and there’s the expressions that deviate from the norm that we find meaningful,” Gerber has said. “And so that’s the relationship I see in my work.”

American, b. 1955, based in Chicago, Illinois