June 22–September 16, 2018

Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century

Ingram Gallery

  • Barnaby Furnas (b. 1973, Philadelphia; based in New York). Untitled (Flood), 2007. Urethane on linen, 84 x 140 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2010, 2010:12. © Barnaby Furnas. Photo: Tom Loonan

  • Korakrit Arunanondchai (b. 1986, Bangkok; based in New York and Bangkok). Untitled (Body Painting 9), 2013. Acrylic paint, denim, and inkjet print on canvas, 86 x 64 in. Courtesy of the artist and C L E A R I N G New York/Brussels. © Korakrit Arunanondchai

  • Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi; based in Brooklyn). Untitled from Tumors, 2004. Acrylic, ink, collage, and contact paper on Mylar, 49 x 42 in. Pizzuti Collection. © Wangechi Mutu. Image courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

  • Kazuki Umezawa (b. 1985, Saitama, Japan; based in Japan). Over the Sky of the Beyond, 2014. Digital print, acrylic, and glitter paste on wood panel, 39 3/8 x 48 7/8 in. Pizzuti Collection. © Kazuki Umezawa

  • Julie Mehretu (b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; based in New York). Conjured Parts (core), 2016. Ink and acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in. Private collection, Phoenix, AZ. © Julie Mehretu. Photo: Tom Powell Imaging

  • Wangechi Mutu (b. 1972, Nairobi; based in Brooklyn). Funkalicious fruit field, 2007. Diptych: ink, paint, mixed media, and plastic pearls on Mylar, 92 1/8 x 106 in. overall. Collection of Glenn Scott Wright, London. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Wangechi Mutu. Image courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London

  • Ali Banisadr (b. 1976, Tehran; based in New York). Contact, 2013. Oil on linen, 82 x 120 in. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman, by exchange, Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, Elisabeth H. Gates Fund, by exchange, Charles W. Goodyear and Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman Funds, by exchange, Philip J. Wickser Fund, by exchange, Gift of Mrs. Seymour H. Knox, Sr., by exchange, Gift of Miss Amelia E. White, by exchange, 2014, 2014:8. © Ali Banisadr. Photo: Tom Loonan

  • Rokni Haerizadeh (b. 1978, Tehran; based in Dubai). But a Storm Is Blowing from Paradise, 2014. 1 of 10 parts exhibited from a 24-part work: gesso, watercolor, and ink on inkjet prints, 11 3/4 x 15 3/4 in. each. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2015.89.9. © Rokni Haerizadeh. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

  • Franz Ackermann (b. 1963, Neumarkt-Sankt Veit, Germany; based in Berlin). Untitled (yet), 2008–9. Oil on canvas, 109 5/8 x 216 1/8 in. Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Washington University in St. Louis; University purchase with funds from the David Woods Kemper Memorial Foundation, 2011, WU 2011.0001. © Franz Ackermann

  • Ahmed Alsoudani (b. 1975, Baghdad; based in New York). Birds, 2015. Acrylic, charcoal, and colored pencil on canvas, 82 x 52 in. Courtesy of the artist and Marlborough Contemporary. © Ahmed Alsoudani

  • Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, Chicago; based in New York). Untitled Anxious Audience, 2016. White ceramic tile, black soap, and wax, 73 x 94 1/2 x 2 1/2 in. Private collection. © Rashid Johnson

  • Corinne Wasmuht (b. 1964, Dortmund, Germany; based in Berlin). Bibliotheque/CDG-BSL, 2011. Triptych: oil on wood mounted on aluminum, 83 x 285 in. overall. Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2011, 2011:44a-c. © Corinne Wasmuht. Image courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

  • Matthew Ritchie (b. 1964, London; based in New York). A bridge, a gate, an ocean, 2014. Oil and ink on canvas, 94 x 120 x 2 1/2 in. Courtesy of the artist. © Matthew Ritchie

  • Sarah Walker (b. 1963, Bethesda, MD; based in Brooklyn). Tanglement, 2016. Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 66 in. Courtesy of the artist and PIEROGI, New York. © Sarah Walker

Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century, a sweeping survey of contemporary art from around the world, celebrates paint’s capacity to weave together images of physical reality, memories, emotions, and the virtual world. The artists in the exhibition dramatically describe the destabilizing effects of such 21st-century forces as globalism, mass migration, radical ideologies, and complex technologies. 

The feelings these artists express, which range from despair at humanity’s darker side to exhilaration at ever-expanding possibilities, are associated with the sublime, a concept that has traditionally referred to being awestruck by the unfathomable power of God and nature. While this can involve sensations of terror and helplessness, it can also relate to wonder, as discussed by the 19th-century artist and critic John Ruskin:

        Anything which elevates the mind is sublime, and elevation
        of mind is produced by the contemplation of greatness of any
        kind. ... Sublimity is, therefore, only another word for the
        effect of greatness upon the feelings; greatness, whether
        of matter, space, power, virtue, or beauty: and there is
        perhaps no desirable quality of a work of art, which, in its
        perfection, is not, in some way or degree, sublime.

Chaos and Awe shows painting to be an apt medium for conveying a contemporary notion of the sublime, with works in the exhibition providing visual analogies for the great depth and mystery of the human mind and its extension into the world.

Chaos and Awe was organized by Mark Scala, chief curator, Frist Art Museum.




Franz Ackermann Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga
Ahmed Alsoudani Rashid Johnson
Ghada Amer and Reza Farkhondeh Guillermo Kuitca
Korakrit Arunanondchai Heather Gwen Martin
Radcliffe Bailey Julie Mehretu
Ali Banisadr Jiha Moon
Pedro Barbeito Wangechi Mutu
Jeremy Blake James Perrin
Matti Braun Neo Rauch
Dean Byington Matthew Ritchie
Hamlett Dobbins Rachel Rossin
Nogah Engler Pat Steir
Anoka Faruqee Barbara Takenaga
Barnaby Furnas Dannielle Tegeder
Ellen Gallagher Kazuki Umezawa
Wayne Gonzales Charline von Heyl
Wade Guyton Sarah Walker
Rokni Haerizadeh Corinne Wasmuht
Peter Halley Sue Williams


WATCH VIDEOS of some of the artists discuss their work.


Photography of Chaos and Awe for personal use is allowed. Flash, monopods, tripods, and video cameras are prohibited at all times and in all galleries.

The Chaos and Awe catalogue is available for purchase in the gift shop.

A multimedia tour of Chaos and Awe is available on our free mobile app.

Exhibition Tour
Chrysler Museum
November 15, 2018–April 28, 2019


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