Hold / Whole
What Could Have Been Has Not Yet Appeared
Dallas Museum of Art

By May 26, 2022
a Black feminine figure surrounded by angels with cornrows in their hair
Naudline Pierre, Too Much, Not Enough, 2019, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.

Presented at the Dallas Museum of Art, Naudline Pierre’s first solo museum exhibition, What Could Be Has Not Yet Appeared, showcases a series of nine large-scale paintings depicting supernatural narratives that expand Black possibility. The work shifts the lens of Afro-surrealism toward possibility by considering the “invisible” as interconnected to Black being and that this connection is devoutly sustaining the past, present, and future.  

Pierre’s multi-dimensional exhibition guides and guards a central protagonist toward discovery and fulfillment. Depicted in sweeping layers of vibrant hues these metamorphic paintings open visually rich and vivid portals for contemplation. The work offers a transitional space to encounter and question the concept of self and to consider the human story as a singular chapter in modern life. The celestial figures in Pierre’s paintings have densely feathered wings that prompt meditations on freedom, futurism, femmehood, and the farce of Black extinction.

Protection. Protector. Protected. The series’ protagonist traverses a myriad of curious realms and divined encounters as she confronts the central motifs of flight and fire. Never alone in the paintings, survival depends on community, on kinship. There is assurance in this world of wonderment, where grace and miracle are natural designs. Everything held by a black wing.

Even the angels have angels.


Naudline Pierre, Hold Me This Way, 2017, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.

I.

Am I heavy Inheritor, when I dream?

*

Nearer to your own star

A private light in your ear

Or is it ancestor

Humming the hymn of your name

Ctrl [Alt] Self at Westobou Gallery, Augusta through August 6
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The feathered choir at your hip?

You are not miracle, but

Near.

Not majesty, that belongs

To the crown holder, though

They rise toward you

Absent of capture, of fear

Your knee lain against

A familiar dark with its perfect

Geometry.

To be alive in the distance

To be held this way

Wholly attended at the center

Ctrl [Alt] Self at Westobou Gallery, Augusta through August 6
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One hand gracing your rib

The other ushering your chest.

And the crowned woman

Knows. She’s been here before.

Owns the velvet responsibility.

And is this what could be

For me

An easy gasp

At my arrival

Proof a halo exists

Heavy with freedom

And bright constructions?

Naudline Pierre, Hold On, Hold Tight, 2019, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.

II.

My body anchored a million futures away

*

I whole myself to safety / held by a black wing /

The worldly error of my body / newly discovered as a sun /

Georgia Museum of Art: Carrie Mae Weems: The Usual Suspects on view through August 7, 2022
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I whole myself to light / the simple blue flame /

Akin to a flower / carrying kind water /

I whole myself to desire / as if never taught to call /

A black bird bad / forget that wings ignite the dead /

I whole myself to trust / to others entering the dream /

By what appears a northeast star / lost and learning orange /

I whole myself to invitation / witness the vibrant assembly /

Who gestures toward me a name / seraphic, the burning one /

I whole myself somewhere / a smoke black universe /

Observing a new genesis / the pageantry of your gaze /

I whole myself elsewhere / lit and lifted in a bow-line /

Swallowing every dark thing / and exploding light /

Naudline Pierre, To Make You Hole, 2021, oil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York. Photo by Paul Takeuchi.

III.

This dream, I fall toward

*

a rift—

she wakes

            elsewhere.

what doesn’t exist:

            hard. sharp.

all the brown labor

            of memory.

Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez’s Casta Paintings on view at Halsey Institute in Charleston through July16
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the wet fatigue

            of birth.

everyone lifted

            held.

the red of her

body

does not mean

            anger.

they burn with a

            rude joy

            luminous. seen.

no fading

            horizon

—and she gives away her hands

the remaining evidence

from which she has made

with no one left to worship

the black flame of miracle

even the angels have angels

gravity, a choice

all a world’s colors in her wing

she conjures anything

gives herself instruction

something to wade

hold me this way,

hold on, hold tight

somewhere, still grows

and the arrival leans quiet.

Am I heavy Inheritor, when I dream?

My body anchored a million futures away

This dream, I fall toward


Naudline Pierre’s What Could Have Been Has Not Yet Appeared was on view at the Dallas Museum of Art from September 26, 2021 through May 15, 2022.

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