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Devendra Banhart: The Grief I Have Caused You


The Grief I Have Caused You, Banhart’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, is a survey of recent paintings and drawings mostly completed during a year when the Grand Pendulum neglected to swing back to “having suffered.” Though they were sowed in a moment of near-universal hurt, each composition manifests an equal, harmonic measure of joy: grotesque figurations of comedy and tragedy embrace and approach fellatio in “Nyima & Dawa,” 2021; a fat-bottomed, high-heeled hiker rejoices at a finally flat stretch of terrain while a behemoth of a feline looms menacingly overhead in “Twilight Hiker,” 2021; “Offering,” 2021, is a total deconstruction of the elements represented within the first two, a Buddhist garden partially digested by the biome of infinity. (Banhart’s flora includes the cubist and surrealist tendencies of Paul Klee, the expressionistic poetry of Helen Frankenthaler, and the violent gestures of Ethel Schwabacher, to name a few.)

Devendra Banhart (b. 1980, Houston, Texas) lives and works in Los Angeles. An internationally renowned musician considered a pioneer of the “freak folk” and “New Weird America” movements, Banhart has toured, performed, and collaborated with Vashti Bunyan, Yoko Ono, Os Mutantes, Swans, ANOHNI, Caetano Veloso, and Beck, amongst many others. His musical work has always existed symbiotically alongside his pursuits in the other fine arts. In addition to painting and drawing most of his own album covers (the album artwork for his 2010 album What Will We Be was nominated for a Grammy), he has contributed to Doug Aitken’s multimedia Station to Station project.

Image: Devendra Banhart. Barbarous Nomenclature, 2021. Courtesy of nicodimgallery.com.