Chicago, Illinois – January 19, 2021 – FLXST Contemporary a young but noted fine arts and photography gallery and an arts incubator in Chicago’s historic and transitioning Motor Row District will open their first 2021 group show Against Impossibility on February 13 with a reception at 5:30 pm. The show runs through March 28 and exclusively features five artists of color, three of whom are international artists representing China – Weiyang Gao, Kuwait – Latifa Alajlan, France and Mexico – Alexis de Chaunac; two of whom are African Americans from the South, a black man – Ajmal “Mas Man” Millar and a cis-gendered black woman Siena Smith. FLXST Contemporary is located at 2251 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 220, Chicago, IL 60616. Due to COVID 19 precautions, reception attendance and viewing is by appointment only and can be booked here or on the TOCK app.
Against Impossibility brings together these five emerging contemporary artists who work across the mediums of sculpture, fibers and textiles, mixed-media, and painting who, despite their precarious positions as MFA students in their final year of studies, continue to produce work influenced by the tumult happening around them. FLXST Contemporary intentionally curated MFA students at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago to showcase how the current moment has affected this new wave of contemporary artists in Chicago working under extreme constraints because of the pandemic, new modes of learning art, new spaces to produce art outside of the academic setting, and working against impossible conditions.
As young, emerging contemporary creators, these artists had to adjust to the conditions around them and have had to ask difficult and often existential questions about their art practice and their identities as artists. Against Impossibility is about the perseverance of these artists and their work offers possible answers to the question of why art matters during these moments of crisis.
FLXST Contemporary’s gallery director and founder Jan Christian Bernabe is a Filipinx American queer person of color based in Chicago. Jan has given an extensive curatorial statement about the show:
“We ended 2020 with signs of change in the United States, a new elected President, and two promising vaccines to battle the COVID pandemic. Change seemed to be on the horizon, a transformation in American culture that many believed could move us away from the hateful rhetoric against people of color, the LGBTQ community, and immigrants unabashedly condoned by President Trump, his congressional allies, and his supporters. The breakneck speed of the development and approval of two COVID-19 vaccines in December captured the global cooperation of doctors and scientists to finally combat a virus that by the end of the year had killed over 300,000 people in the US alone. The last two months of 2020 looked as though the new year would bring back a semblance of normalcy in the US and around the world.
With the odds stacked against FLXST Contemporary’s survival in 2020, we rolled into the new year working harder than ever developing an art program for 2021 that aligned with our mission to support and exhibit the very best of contemporary art by artists of color, LGBTQ artists, and immigrant artists. Last year showed us that art matters tremendously during times of crisis. Our art programming last year offered Chicagoans a means to cope with all that was happening in the world and ways to think about and to make meaning of moments of racial and social unrest that was happening all around us through the artwork exhibited in the gallery. The insurrection that occurred during the first week of January that we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol fomented by the conservative media, Republican legislators, and the President of the United States proves to us that we continue to live in a state of precarity—a moment of impossibility that as a gallery and as artists, we continue to work against.”