Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle - Lévy Gorvy
  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

  • Installation view of Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle at Levy Gorvy Hong Kong

    Installation view, Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Lévy Gorvy Hong Kong 2021. Photo: Kitmin Lee

Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure PrincipleExhibitions

Hong Kong
October 15 - December 15, 2021

#MickaleneThomas

Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

On October 15, Lévy Gorvy presents Mickalene Thomas’ Beyond the Pleasure Principle in Hong Kong, the final chapter of a multipart exhibition that will unfold across four international cities during fall 2021 to present interconnected bodies of new work, ranging from painting and collage to installation and video. Over the past 20 years, Thomas has cultivated a distinctive vocabulary of Black erotica, Black sexuality, and Black queer aesthetics within her multidisciplinary practice. With the sequential premieres of Beyond the Pleasure Principlein the gallery’s locations in New York, London, Paris, and Hong Kong, Thomas sets out to formally, spatially, and philosophically draw attention to the central study of her art: the power and desirability of Black women, and their presence, imprint, and legacy in global avant-garde visual culture.

By alluding to both the 1987 hit song by Janet Jackson and the 1920 landmark essay by Sigmund Freud, the title Beyond the Pleasure Principlesignals Thomas’ personal, artistic, and political intentions while also acknowledging the intersection of influences and techniques that underlie her work.

For the exhibition in Hong Kong, Thomas premieres six new mixed-media paintings from her Tête de Femme series, offering complex contemporary interpretations of both the Cubist motif and the Pop Art sensibility for artifice as a reflection of greater cultural significance. Her most abstract series, these vibrant paintings employ the formal techniques developed by Pablo Picasso and George Braque, the fractured and multi-perspective picture plane, and the aesthetic qualities of a magazine cover model, a subject made fine art by artists like Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann.  By engaging the work of her predecessors, Thomas firmly roots herself within the history of art, while also questioning the true origin of modernist techniques. This series specifically recalls work like Picasso’s Tête de femme (Fernande) (1909–10), which was produced during the artist’s “African Period,” where his encounter with African sculptures, masks, and artifacts directly inspired the formal innovations for which he came to be known.

Even though heavily abstracted, the subjects Thomas features in the Tête de Femme series, are imbued with power through scale and omnipresence that radiates from the canvas. In Tête de Femme #10 (2021), a mustard yellow surface is shattered into fragments that are punctuated by two eyes, a nose, and a mouth that hint at a face that is not immediately legible. There are sections of pink, blue, reflective brown, and black, adorned with rhinestones and glitter, that make subtle reference to hair, makeup, and the frame of a face. One can almost recognize the women that populate the more traditional portraits for which Thomas is known. The color, form, and texture of these abstracted subjects electrify the canvas with energy, pulling viewers in by their radiance and confidence. As Thomas’ work often makes evident, stylized self-presentation and the celebration of diverse forms of beauty can be a form of power, liberation, and community building; a means for visibility when so much of society has been designed toward their degradation or invisibility.

These paintings represent the Black female talisman Thomas has created to fill a critical failure of the modern cultural narrative, where Blackness and depictions of femininity have informed so many major touchstones, while Black women have all but been omitted from art history due to what art historian T.J. Clark describes as institutional and academic “blindness” to Black women. Even postcolonial theory, which established the appropriation methods of Picasso and numerous other Modernists, largely serves the myth of cultural superiority—an omission to secure the lie of Black women’s non-contribution to fine art and canonical culture. This has been the fundamental structure across Thomas’ oeuvre: the true representation of Black female beauty and power that is both specific to Thomas’ personal history, aesthetic, and taste, as well as a universal ideal communicated through her engagement with the art historical canon. Employing two of 20th century’s most influential (and widely recognizable) art movements, Thomas’ Tête de Femme series invites us to consider the truly revolutionary potential of truth-telling through images.

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Selected Works

  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #3
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, archival paper, resin paint pen, acrylic, and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel
    84 x 70 inches (213.4 x 177.8 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #4
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, archival paper, oil pastel, acrylic, and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel 72 x 60 inches (182.9 x 152.4 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #5
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, archival paper, oil pastel, acrylic, and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel 72 x 60 inches (182.9 x 152.4 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

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  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #8
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, archival paper, oil pastel, acrylic, and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel 96 x 80 inches (243.8 x 203.2 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Inquire
  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #9
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, oil pastel, acrylic, and oil on canvas mounted on wood panel
    96 x 80 inches (243.8 x 203.2 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Inquire
  • MICKALENE THOMAS
    Tête de Femme #10
    2021
    Rhinestones, glitter, Swarovski crystal fabric, acrylic, and
    oil on canvas mounted on wood panel
    84 x 70 inches (213.4 x 177.8 cm)
    © Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    Inquire

Selected Press

Elle | Il manifesto di resistenza del corpo e del potere della donna di Mickalene Thomas

November 6, 2021

Lo sguardo diretto e un approccio ai linguaggi dell’arte deciso a infrangerne le convenzioni, rendono …

Vogue | 肖战成为GUCCI代言人,最近的新鲜事远不止这一件

October 25, 2021

早,欢迎大家来到我们的全新栏目《Good Morning VOGUE》。从今天开始,以后的每周一我们都将如期而至,与大家分享关于时尚及文化艺术圈的新鲜事。

Hi艺术 | 非裔艺术家米卡琳·托马斯:我们的在场不需要谁的允许

October 25, 2021

不知今年底西方艺术媒体进行年度回顾的时候,是否会将2021年称为“米卡琳·托马斯(Mickalene …

IDEAT | 专访Mickalene Thomas:将黑人女性的身体插入艺术史中

October 25, 2021

当代非裔美国视觉艺术家米卡琳·托马斯(Mickalene Thomas)毫无争议的是时下最具影响力的艺术家和话题人物之一。她革新并继承了自20世纪兴起的多个艺术风格和流派,灵活地运用拼贴、影像和装置等多种创作手法,塑造出了一系列展示自我美丽和欲望的黑人女性肖象

Wallpaper | Mickalene Thomas on Black beauty, eroticism and power

October 21, 2021

Mickalene Thomas's highly anticipated international exhibition, ‘Beyond the Pleasure Principle’ is …

Sohu.com | 非裔艺术家米卡琳·托马斯:我们的在场不需要谁的允许

October 21, 2021

不知今年底西方艺术媒体进行年度回顾的时候,是否会将2021年称为“米卡琳·托马斯(Mickalene …

Dazed | Mickalene Thomas on slicing her way through the Pleasure Principle

October 20, 2021

Reimagining the past with the edge of a razor, Mickalene Thomas’s kaleidoscopic oeuvre poses timely …

Tatler Asia | Mickalene Thomas’s Hong Kong Show Celebrates Black Beauty and Women

October 19, 2021

American artist Mickalene Thomas, who has changed the way we look at Black bodies, is presenting her …

The New York Times | Mickalene Thomas Is Reinventing Nudes

October 13, 2021

Over the past two decades, Thomas, who is 50, has garnered acclaim for multiple modes of creating.

Essence | Mickalene Thomas' Celebration Of Black Women's Bodies Is On View In 4 Global Cities

October 11, 2021

“Mickalene uses a multitude of mediums showcasing the strength and vulnerability of Black women through …

Télérama | À Paris, l’artiste afro-féministe Mickalene Thomas frappe les esprits

October 11, 2021

L’Américaine, dont les œuvres sont actuellement exposées dans deux galeries parisiennes, veut donner …

Vogue España | La artista Mickalene Thomas quiere que su mensaje de cambio se escuche alto y claro

October 4, 2021

Activista de la liberación de la belleza afro, la creadora visual ‘queer’ estadounidense Mickalene …

NewsStand | Newsstand227|德基美术馆回归,呈现三大展览:五大名窑珍品展、百倍放大金陵图、奈良美智「绿屋」与「橘屋」

October 4, 2021

美国艺术家米卡琳·托马斯的四城同名联展「超越快乐原则」(Beyond the Pleasure …

Il Giornale dell'Arte | Il potere nero tra pop e strass

October 1, 2021

Fino al 13 novembre a galleria Lévy Gorvy ospita nei suoi quattro spazi a New York, Londra, Parigi e …

Hong Kong Tatler | Black Beauties

October 1, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, who has changed the way we look at Black bodies, is presenting her life’s work in …

Vogue España | Venus de Ébano y Metal

September 27, 2021

La creadora visual ‘queer’ estadounidense MICKALENE THOMAS ha puesto su arte al servicio de la memoria …

Widewalls | A Grand Four-City Survey of Mickalene Thomas On View at Levy Gorvy

September 24, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, one of the most celebrated artists of her generation, creates politically charged …

Dazed | Mickalene Thomas

September 21, 2021

Reimagining the past with the edge of a razor, Mickalene Thomas’s kaleidoscopic oeuvre poses timely …

Harper's Bazaar Germany | Feine Fur alle Mit zuganglicher Kunst avancierte Mickalene Thomas zum Star. Fur Bazaar gestaltete die Vielgefragte ein Cover

September 20, 2021

Für Mickalene Thomas geht es in diesem Herbst rund. In der Mitte ihres Lebens befindet sich die Künstlerin …

Smithsonian Magazine | Mickalene Thomas’ Dazzling Collages Reclaim Black Women’s Bodies

September 7, 2021

Mickalene Thomas, a contemporary African American artist known for her stunning collages, is attempting …

Air Mail | Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

September 3, 2021

The exhibition will show in four chapters in Lévy Gorvy’s four galleries. The openings are staggered, …

The Brooklyn Rail | Mickalene Thomas with Amber Jamilla Musser

September 3, 2021

Beginning September 9 in New York City, Lévy Gorvy will present Mickalene Thomas: Beyond the Pleasure …

Essence | The Black Body Electric

September 1, 2021

Mickalene uses a multitude of mediums show-casing the strength and vulnerability of Black women through …

Interview | Mickalene Thomas by Whoopi Goldberg

September 1, 2021

This fall, Mickalene Thomas is taking over the world. The artist is kicking off her four-city Lévy Gorvy …

The Canvas | Just Getting Started: Mickalene Thomas

September 1, 2021

Mickalene Thomas is taking over the world this autumn, and for her legion of fans, it can't come soon …

Document Journal | Mickalene Thomas remixes tropes from art history to reveal everyday Black women as icons

August 30, 2021

This fall, Mickalene Thomas will open Beyond the Pleasure Principle, an international exhibition across …

Frieze | Signs of Resistance in a New Painting by Mickalene Thomas

August 25, 2021

Mickalene Thomas does not have to prove that the women she depicts are beautiful, nor does her work give …

Vogue | In Four New Exhibitions This Fall, Mickalene Thomas Explores the Beauty of the Female Form

August 24, 2021

The four locations where Mickalene Thomas will show this fall are all part of the Lévy Gorvy gallery …

Time Out | Artist Mickalene Thomas mines vintage Jet Magazines for new show

August 19, 2021

The celebrated artist Mickalene Thomas, who frequently mines the cultural significance and contributions …

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