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EJ Hill at Commonwealth and Council

On view: November 16, 2019–January 4, 2020

EJ Hill, an artist who grew up in black communities here in L.A., has become known for his durational performances in which his body is present in the exhibition. But at Commonwealth and Council, Hill is not present. In his stead, the words “Twice as good is too much” are repeated throughout the show, eliciting a kind of chorus. The phrase is made in neon and embedded onto a chalkboard, then it is scrawled across handwriting practice sheets that cover his paintings. This school theme carries throughout. One painting, Composition #3 (gold star), is painted black and pocked with spit-balls. In the lower right corner sits a single gold star: the spit-balls here seem to denote the suffering and determination that it takes to rise and achieve excellence as a person of color. The repeated text recalls that black people have to be twice as good to get half as far, yet Hill takes that phrase one step further: Sometimes twice as good is simply too much. Perhaps in his absence from the gallery, Hill is advocating for the importance of rest and self-care for the black community amidst the intense pressures to over-perform.