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.

In 2022, Sylvester will mount his first solo institutional presentation in an American museum in his hometown of North Carolina at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture. Sylvester’s work is held in public collections including the Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, UK; Spazio 1, Lugano, Switzerland; and Fondazione Stelline, Milan, Italy. His work will be featured in a forthcoming survey of contemporary art published by Phaidon, due for release in spring 2022. Recent solo exhibitions include NEMISIS, Maximillian William, London (2019); and The Rise and Fall of a People, Fondazione Stelline, Milan (2017).

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SELECTED WORKS

EXHIBITIONS

PRESS

Oct19
The New York Times Style Magazine
The New York Times Style Magazine

A Collaboration Among Friends By Flo Wales Bonner

October 2021
Aug11
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM

With the End in Mind by Reginald Sylvester II at Maximillian William, London

August 2021
Jul08
PLASTER
PLASTER

Issue No.4 with Reginald Sylvester II

July 2021
Jun30
APOLLO
APOLLO

In the studio with… Reginald Sylvester II

June 2021
Jun26
OFFICE
May01
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM
LUCY WRITERS PLATFORM

Modal Painting Reviewed by Isabella Hill

May 2021
Apr21
STUDIO INTERNATIONAL
STUDIO INTERNATIONAL

Modal Painting Reviewed by Veronica Simpson

April 2021
Mar04
Reginald Sylvester II, Ben Bowling and Oscar Wollheim in conversation
Reginald Sylvester II, Ben Bowling and Oscar Wollheim in conversation

On Thursday 18th March at 7pm (GMT), 3pm (EST), 12pm (PT), Curator Oscar Wollheim, Artist Reginald Sylvester II and Sir…

March 2021
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

RELATED CONTENT

Jul21
Reginald Sylvester II and Allie Biswas in conversation
Reginald Sylvester II and Allie Biswas in conversation

On Thursday 5 August at 7pm (BST), 2pm (EDT), 11am (PDT), Reginald Sylvester II will be in conversation with writer…

July 2021
May14
Reginald Sylvester II: I CARE BECAUSE YOU DO
Reginald Sylvester II: I CARE BECAUSE YOU DO

Opening 28 May, Reginald Sylvester II will exhibit his work in I CARE BECAUSE YOU DO a group at The Mass,…

May 2021
Mar04
Reginald Sylvester II, Ben Bowling and Oscar Wollheim in conversation
Reginald Sylvester II, Ben Bowling and Oscar Wollheim in conversation

On Thursday 18th March at 7pm (GMT), 3pm (EST), 12pm (PT), Curator Oscar Wollheim, Artist Reginald Sylvester II and Sir…

March 2021