In 2018, the American painter Sam Gilliam spent an extended time in Basel, Switzerland, where he worked on an exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel. During those laborious months, Gilliam realized that there was a large influx of African immigrants among the population. Inspired by their presence in the Swiss town, he returned to his studio and began incorporating elements of African architecture into his work. Three series resulted. One sees large-scale monochromatic painting on Japanese washi paper. Another, dense mottled layers on canvas. The third, sculpted pyramids and parallelograms. Many of these pieces pay homage to Gilliam’s black heroes, and nod to music and dance. —E.C.
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