This week, GBH Executive Arts Editor Jared Bowen joined the Morning Edition team to discuss a controversial exhibit on view at the MFA and an Iranian artist's first museum exhibit.
Philip Guston Now
On view at Museum of Fine Arts through Sept. 11
“This is a show that a lot of people have been waiting a long time for,” Bowen says. “What they have done here is craft, I think, a really extraordinary show.”
“Philip Guston Now,” a retrospective on the artist Philip Guston, was initially slated for a four-museum tour in 2020. The museums' curators collectively decided to postpone the show in September 2020 following the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, as Guston’s later work frequently features depictions of the Ku Klux Klan. The curators wrote they would wait “until a time at which we think that the powerful message of social and racial justice that is at the center of Philip Guston's work can be more clearly interpreted.” It was a delay that Bowen says “enraged” the art world.
He was the son of Jewish parents from present-day Ukraine. A police department with a tie to the KKK defaced his art in his early years. When the civil rights movement came to a boiling point in the '60s, Bowen says Guston was moved to try to move away from abstract expressionism to meet the moment.
“So he turns to a completely different style of painting. He adopts these kind of cartoonish figures and going into figurative painting, but all while representing these hooded figures: the KKK,” Bowen says.
“I have been reading about this controvery from the beginning — I reported on this controversy from the beginning — so I always had this notion of what Guston was doing,” he continues. “I think that a lot of eyes are going to be on museums from here on out to make sure that they’re more expansive in their thinking as they assemble shows, especially those of a controversial nature like this one.”
On view at the Currier Museum of Art through Sept. 5
Artist Arghavan Khosravi's first-ever museum show is a surrealist journey that explores the oppression and human rights restrictions that many women and immigrants experience.
"She's an artist on the rise, and this is a chance to see her very early on in her career," Bowen says. "And I think you'll want to say, 'I saw her when...'"
The exhibit, which takes viewers through her new work over the the last few years, is focused on the artist's lived experience as an Iranian woman.
"There is a duality in all of her paintings," Bowen says. "You see luminous images of women and flowering trees and birds with widespread wings. But you'll also see trees dissected — almost where there seems to be blood that might emanate — where women are constricted, either with shackles or their faces are obscured."