REGINALD SYLVESTER II

BIOGRAPHY

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).

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EXHIBITIONS

NEMESIS
Reginald Sylvester II
September 27 – November 14, 2019
SURFACE ISSUES
Group Exhibition
June 7 – August 15, 2017
THE RISE AND FALL OF A PEOPLE
Reginald Sylvester II
March 15th – April 1st, 2017
REACHING FOR HEAVEN
Reginald Sylvester II
March 4 – April 16, 2016
A GENERATION SO BRIGHT
Reginald Sylvester II
October 30 – November 13, 2015
IN SEARCH OF A WONDERFUL PLACE
Reginald Sylvester II
April 30 – May 5, 2015

PUBLICATIONS

REGINALD SYLVESTER II
NEMESIS: SPECIAL EDITION

REGINALD SYLVESTER II
NEMESIS
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REGINALD SYLVESTER II
In Search of a Wonderful Place

VIDEOS

NEMESIS: SPECIAL EDITION PAINTING SESSION

INTERVIEW WITH MICHELE ROBECCHI

THE RISE AND FALL OF A PEOPLE

PRESS

OFFICE MAGAZINE
The Seriousness of the Soul
October, 2019
HYPEBEAST
Reginald Sylvester II Displays Chair Inspired By His Mom at NYC’s R & Company
September, 2019
THE NEW YORK TIMES
Four Knockout Group Shows to See Now
October, 2018
GALERIE
See Why Artist Reginald Sylvester II Is Garnering Critical Raves
September, 2018
HIGHSNOBIETY
Figuring Art Out
May, 2018
HIGHSNOBIETY
How Reginald Sylvester II Went From Designing Streetwear to Success in the Fine Art World
April, 2018
HUFFINGTON POST
Pausing to See a Premonition: Reginald Sylvester II at Lever House
January, 2018
I-D
Reginald Sylvester II Makes Mega Poignant Art Inspired by Dreams and Scriptures
November, 2017
VSCO
A Deciphering of Reginald Sylvester II
November, 2017
OFFICE MAGAZINE
Reginald Sylvester II’s Unconscious Place
October, 2017
GARAGE
Reginald Sylvester II Paints with Purpose in a New Show at Lever House
October, 2017
VMAN
Progression of an Artist: Reginald Sylvester II
September, 2017
THIS IS ME NOT BEING YOU
Interview with Giovanna Piscane
May, 2017
ATP DIARY
Reginald Sylvester II — The Rise and Fall of a People
March, 2017
HIGHSNOBIETY
Inside Reginald Sylvester II’s “Reaching For Heaven” Exhibition
March, 2016
ARTSY
Orgiastic New Work from an Emerging Talent in NYC
March, 2016
HIGHSNOBIETY
A Look Inside Slvstr’s ‘In Search of a Wonderful Place’ Exhibit in New York City
May, 2015
I-D
Brooklyn Painter Slvstr Makes Art Out of 90s Cartoons
May, 2015