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Jeffrey Gibson: no simple word for time

In his first solo exhibition at a UK museum, American artist Jeffrey Gibson (b.1972) will create a new site-specific installation for the Sainsbury Centre.

The first Indigenous artist to represent the USA at this year’s Venice Biennale, Gibson is a painter and sculptor whose work is held in many major American collections. Incorporating murals, paintings, textiles and historical objects, Gibson’s work also weaves together text drawn lyrics, poetry and his own writing, complete with references to abstraction, fashion and popular culture.

Of Mississippi Choctaw and Cherokee heritage, Gibson uses materials such as Native American beadwork and trading posts in his art that explores identity and labels.

Now, Gibson has created a vast installation that incorporates 19th and 20th century objects from Indigenous cultures across North America. Alongside the beadwork, parfleche and dolls that are common motifs in Gibson’s work, I can choose (2024) will consider the artist’s relationship with these items alongside how they are displayed within public facing museums.

The exhibition will illuminate the rich practice of abstraction in Indigenous art, going against the common narrative within UK museums that abstraction only emerged in the 20th century. It continues a specific focus on this area of art from the Sainsbury Centre, following last year’s successful exhibition Empowering Art: Indigenous Creativity and Activism from North America’s Northwest Coast.

Photo by Kate Wolstenholme