For her debut exhibition at Anton Kern Gallery, Mexican-born and New York-based activist and painter Aliza Nisenbaum will present Coreografías, a new body of individual and group portrait paintings. All works are the results of the artist’s participation in a variety of group and community activities such as her recent Brixton Station residency or her engagement with a downtown NYC salsa dancing group.
Aliza Nisenbaum began working with portraiture in relation to community organizing in 2013 at the Immigrant Movement International, a grassroots organization headquartered in Queens, New York, and founded by Tania Bruguera to assist local immigrant communities. Her first engagement with its members was as an English teacher. She taught translation by reading texts on feminism and women artists. She found that she so enjoyed getting to know her students that she proposed painting their portraits so as to be able to spend more time with them. A makeshift studio was set up in the middle of the common area, a very public location that was also part workshop, with art materials for the community, and part teaching space.
Nisenbaum has since worked with diverse communities in the US and the UK and exhibited the resulting portraits at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the 2017 Whitney Biennial, and at White Columns in New York. She has most recently completed the Art of the Underground commission and residency in the Brixton neighborhood of London creating a large group portrait of 15 staff members of the Brixton Station and Victoria Line. A monumental vinyl reproduction of the painting was installed in the station’s main entrance staircase. Nisenbaum is scheduled for her first European museum solo exhibition at Tate Liverpool in 2020.
On the occasion of Coreografías, Hatje Cantz has published Aliza Nisenbaum’s first monograph, a fully illustrated 96-page book including an essay by Tatiana Flores and interview with Gabriel Ritter.