Reginald Sylvester II

Reginald Sylvester II

Reginald Sylvester II

The expressive and abbreviated figures that dominate the ambitious canvases of Reginald Sylvester II’s earlier works appear in flashes in the epic gestural abstractions that constitute his latest work. Recognizable flickers emerge and rescind into the thicket of brushwork: was that an extended limb, a profile, a torso twisting back on itself? The frenetic energy conveyed through these glimpses of what may be human forms recalls the orgiastic sensibility of Elaine de Kooning’s Bacchus paintings as well as the dynamism of Joan Mitchell’s enveloping abstractions. Sylvester thereby stakes his place in a history of abstraction that is unconcerned with toeing a line of formal purity and unwilling to foreswear completely the figurative vocabulary from which these gestures evolve.

Sylvester’s works are informed by a range of experience within diverse visual economies that belies his young age. His sensibility draws from the media savvy gained from his time as a graphic designer, from a close knowledge of contemporary fashion, and from his historical grounding in Abstract Expressionist practices. Sylvester conceptualizes painting as a matter of finding, rather than spontaneously generating images, a practice rooted in Willem de Kooning’s philosophy of painting as well as broader theological traditions. Biblical wisdom compels faith in the unseen with the promise that our passage from material to ethereal states will manifest as knowledge beyond mortal comprehension. Yet Sylvester’s seeking through abstraction is rooted in social realities as well as spiritual practice. As images of victims of racist violence cycle through our media landscape with numbing regularity, refusing to figure the black body within exploitative systems of vision can constitute a radical act in itself.

Beneath the vital, interdependent marks that pulse through the surfaces of Sylvester’s canvases lie strata of overpainting, each image containing volumes of its own history that the viewer will never completely know. This undergirding of formal experimentation and art historical discernment lends to each work its own particular grace.

Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1987, Sylvester grew up in Oakland, California. He lives and works in New York. His work was recently the subject of solo exhibitions including NEMISIS at Maximillian William, London (2019), Reaching for Heaven at Pace Prints, New York (2016), The Rise and Fall of a People at Fondazione Stelline, Milan (2017) and Premonition at the Lever House Art Collection, New York (2017). Sylvester’s work was also featured prominently in the group exhibitions Punch, curated for Jeffrey Deitch Los Angeles by the artist Nina Chanel Abney (2019), and Surface Issues at Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai (2017).

Download full CV here

SELECTED WORKS

EXHIBITIONS

PRESS

Jul17
ARTSY
ARTSY

Orgiastic New Work from an Emerging Talent in NYC

July 2020
Jul08
GOODE
GOODE

Artist Reginald Sylvester II Reflects on the Evolving Meaning of Space

July 2020
Oct10
THE NEW YORK TIMES
THE NEW YORK TIMES

Four Knockout Group Shows to See Now

October 2019
Oct10
OFFICE MAGAZINE
OFFICE MAGAZINE

The Seriousness of the Soul

October 2019
Sep10
HYPEBEAST
HYPEBEAST

Reginald Sylvester II Displays Chair Inspired By His Mom at NYC’s R & Company

September 2019
Sep29
GALERIE
GALERIE

See Why Artist Reginald Sylvester II Is Garnering Critical Raves

September 2018
May29
HIGHSNOBIETY
Jan29
HUFFINGTON POST
HUFFINGTON POST

Pausing to See a Premonition: Reginald Sylvester II at Lever House

January 2018
Nov29
VSCO
VSCO

A Deciphering of Reginald Sylvester II

November 2017
Nov29
I-D
I-D

Reginald Sylvester II Makes Mega Poignant Art Inspired by Dreams and Scriptures

November 2017
Oct30
GARAGE
GARAGE

Reginald Sylvester II Paints with Purpose in a New Show at Lever House

October 2017
Oct29
OFFICE MAGAZINE
OFFICE MAGAZINE

Reginald Sylvester II’s Unconscious Place

October 2017
Sep29
VMAN
VMAN

Progression of an Artist: Reginald Sylvester II

September 2017
Mar29
THIS IS ME NOT BEING YOU
Mar17
ATP DIARY
ATP DIARY

Reginald Sylvester II — The Rise and Fall of a People

March 2017

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Artist Reginald Sylvester II Reflects on the Evolving Meaning of Space

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Reginald Sylvester and Legacy Russell
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Starting at 1:00pm EST on 26 June, join an in-depth discussion between Brooklyn-based artist Reginald Sylvester II and Associate Curator…

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Reginald Sylvester II: OrtaMiklos
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Opening 22 June, Reginald Sylvester II will exhibit his work in OrtaMiklos: 6 acts of confinement, a group exhibition by…

June 2020