Ilana Savdie: Las Tinieblas, 2023. COURTESY KOHN GALLERY, LOS ANGELES AND WHITE CUBE, LONDON. PHOTO LANCE BREWER
If you’re wishing to connect over a barrage of disparaging news and a general feeling of tumult, look no further than the paintings and works on paper in Ilana Savdie’s exhibition “Radical Contradictions” at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Growing up between Barranquilla, Colombia, and Miami, Florida, Savdie’s electrifying tableaus take up the current moment, while continuing to highlight themes of the carnival and the grotesque. As the United States has seen the overturning of Roe v. Wade and anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation, the works pick up on power dynamics, teetering somewhere between fantastical dream and hellscape. Here, Savdie discusses how the works came together, including her studio practice and environmental inspiration.
How did you go about choosing the works for the show?
Originally, I started with the idea of making a few new works and primarily having some loaned pieces, as the show is a continued investigation of themes I have been working with. But I started to realize that there was a slight variation and something new was happening. I decided to let it pour out and ended up making all new works for the show within a few months’ time.