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Denzil Hurley's Glyph Series: An Exploration of Abstract Forms & Materiality Now at the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

“Denzil Hurley: In Praise of Use” brings together seven paintings from Hurley’s “Glyph” series (2012–20), one of the artist’s last body of works. A glyph is a nonverbal graphic representation, like a hieroglyph or a pictograph that employs the mark’s shape as part of its meaning. For Hurley, the glyph served as a metaphor to think of his paintings as integral forms whose meaning comes together only from their internal relations. Refusing throughout his career to rely on spatial illusion and figuration, Hurley’s paintings are stoic and matter-of-fact objects that highlight the very elements out of which they are made—color, shape, surface, and the way in which the time of their production is registered.


The exhibition ends Sep 29, 2024


Hurley was born in Barbados in 1949. Throughout the years, he returned to the island from his home in Seattle. During the last decade before he passed away, in 2021, he began to ponder the architectural ingenuity of provisional structures on the island. Resourceful repurposing often characterizes spaces working their way out of colonial arrangements. The “Glyph” paintings are the result of Hurley’s thinking on this improvisation and how it relates to the unflagging experimentation that undergirded his reductive way of working. Often mounted on repurposed broomsticks, salvaged tubes, and leftover pieces of wood, and resembling improvised protest and carnival signage, Hurley’s last paintings establish a dialogue between abstraction and the practical use of materials.



Hurley participated in numerous institutional exhibitions during his life, including solo shows at the Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Seattle Art Museum; and Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina. His work is in public collections including the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Brooklyn Museum; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; City of Portland; Portland Art Museum; and the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven.


By ML Staff. Courtesy of Institute of Contemporary Art Miami

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