Jenkins Johnson Gallery was pleased to present Dewey Crumpler: Tulip Memories, a solo presentation at FOG Design + Art. The fair took place January 19 – 22, 2023 with a preview gala on Wednesday, January 18 starting at 4 pm.
Dewey Crumpler's (b. 1949, Arkansas) Tulip Series, created in 1998, was presented at his solo exhibition Of Tulips & Shadows at the California African American Museum, Los Angeles in 2008. This pivotal body of work has shaped his practice over the last 25 years. On a trip to Amsterdam, Crumpler was inspired by the fields of tulips, and the singularity of each flower as a full embodiment of “tulip”. He recognized in the tulip a vehicle for expression that touched him deeply, its qualities perfectly unified with his conceptual and sympathetic base. “The tulip permitted me to have a form that could translate the sort of emotional quality that lay at the base of my interest in painting. It could express, had the power to grip, could be erotic and ominous simultaneously. This form permitted me to go right for the force of nature I was interested in.”
Crumpler is attracted to the physicality of the tulip, its fullness, emptiness, and relationship to space. To him, the tulip is analogous to African bodies when they move; tulips, like Africans, were taken out of their original environment, shipped around the world, and therefore transformed. Contemporary African Americans stand as enduring survivors of the peculiar institution of slavery; similarly, the tulip symbolizes resistance and is a resilient flower, maintaining its physical integrity amidst extreme climate conditions. Through these metaphors, the artist speaks about subjugation in America and how this condition was transformed into a state of cultural self-fulfillment and spiritual development.
Dewey Crumpler was an Associate Professor of painting at San Francisco Art Institute. His current work examines issues of globalization and cultural commodification through the integration of digital imagery, video, and traditional painting techniques. Crumpler just completed a survey at The Richmond Arts Center. He is in the permanent collections of the Oakland Museum of California; the Triton Museum of Art, CA; and the California African American Museum. Digital images of his murals were included in the 2017 Tate Modern’s Soul of a Nation. He has received many awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant. He has been in publications such as Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, and The New York Times.