Three new exhibitions open until April 30, 2022
White Columns

Three new exhibitions now open.
March 19 – April 30, 2022

Lloyd Foster
Safe Journey

Christine Shan Shan Hou

John Maclean

Lloyd Foster, Say a Prayer for Sal (covered), 2022.

Lloyd Foster
Safe Journey

White Columns is pleased to present Safe Journey, the first solo exhibition in New York by the Ghanaian-American artist Lloyd Foster.

For White Columns Foster has created a dense, immersive and labyrinth-like installation that juxtaposes suspended mixed-media sculptural works, framed works-on-paper, large-format overpainted photographic prints, and video works presented on pre-digital television monitors. Materially promiscuous, Foster’s visceral works freely combine paint, photographs, drawings, insulating foam, sponges, nets, pumice, hibiscus, and much more besides.

Foster has described his work as an exploration of what he terms as “time away” – journeys both physical and metaphorical. Working from his own photographic sources and video footage shot during repeated visits to Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania made between 2015 and 2021, Foster has created an emotionally and psychologically complex body of work that is ultimately centered around his relationship with photography, and photography’s relationship with time, experience, memory and loss. In a recent interview Foster expanded upon these ideas:

“My art is heavily inspired by my childhood. I sometimes find myself reliving life moments through the people that I’m photographing and their experiences. For instance, looking at the photograph that I took of a mother holding her children’s hands as they walk on the beach, it reminded me of the times my mother held my hand as we took laps around the lake when I was younger. There are certain moments that ‘click’ to me, and I appreciate seeing them, even if I’m not photographing them.”

In his ongoing series of text drawings Foster establishes an inventory – a form of cross-cultural mapping – of the goods, produce and foodstuffs that one might encounter in an African street market. For a 2021 project Foster installed his own works among the produce at Stella Adebola’s African Caribbean Food Market in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Exploring questions of identity – both personal and cultural – Foster’s kinetic practice disrupts, and ‘explodes,’ the conventional narratives and intentions we might typically associate with the documentarian and documentary photography itself. Forster creates unruly image-objects that are constantly in flux and open to interpretation. In Foster’s hands images – like memories – become more liminal, fleeting even.

Lloyd Foster (b. 1990, Washington, D.C.) lives and works in New York City. He received an MFA from New York University in 2021; and received a B.Sc. from Saint Francis University, Loretto, PA, in 2012. He is a founder of Yeboah Studios: a platform that bridges African countries and the diaspora through culture and collaboration. In the summer of 2021 he organized ‘Market Series’ in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, where he choregraphed his own works among the produce and merchandise on sale in Stella Adebola’s African Caribbean Food Market. He has exhibited in a number of solo and group exhibitions including: ‘Home Museum,’ LagosPhoto Festival, Lagos, Nigeria (2020); ‘America Is…’, Touchstone Gallery, Washington, D.C. (2019); and ‘Connecting the Dots 2’, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, VA (2018), among others. ‘Safe Journey’ is his first solo exhibition in New York.

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Christine Shan Shan Hou, character study (lost at sea), 2022, collage on paper.

Christine Shan Shan Hou

White Columns is pleased to present Playdate, the first solo exhibition by poet and artist Christine Shan Shan Hou. On view in our project space, ‘The Bulletin Board’, Hou’s presentation includes a selection of poems and recent collages, and is accompanied by a zine of new writing.

Hou’s most recent book of poetry, titled The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing was published by After Hours Editions in 2021. Diana Khoi Nguyen described the publication as an ‘explosively frontal collection…Hou’s scope traverses diverse terrains: from the female body in domestic situations to landscapes with predators and megafauna—to even the wilds of the afterlife, where ‘everyone lives in a hotel.’ These leaping, elliptical poems are darkly funny and full of pluck and verve. The speakers of these poems keeps one eye on the terrarium of contemporary life while keeping the other eye on watch for blink-and-you’ll-miss-it death.

The selection of collages on view were all created between 2019 and 2022. Selecting images from vintage magazines, Hou creates scenes where often isolated objects – including women’s hands, sweets and flowers – hover in dreamlike landscapes. Writing about Hou’s collages for The New York Times, Jillian Steinhauer observed “Ms. Hou is a poet, and her collages… reflect that. With minimal means, she conjures a searching, often playful tone. Some are punlike, clever plays on words and visual tropes”. Hou views “both my poems and my collages like miniature worlds—each filled with their own characters, tastes, textures, and elements of strangeness and love.”

Christine Shan Shan Hou (b.1985, New Jersey) is a Hakka Chinese-American poet based in Brooklyn, New York. Publications include The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing (After Hours Editions 2021) Community Garden for Lonely Girls (Gramma Poetry 2017),“I’m Sunlight” (The Song Cave 2016), C O N C R E T E S O U N D (2011) a collaborative artists’ book with Audra Wolowiec, and Accumulations (Publication Studio, Jank Editions 2010) featuring drawings by Hannah Rawe. Their poems and artwork have been featured in numerous journals and anthologies. They have received awards from The Key West Literary Seminar and The Flow Chart Foundation/Academy for American Poets.

Copies of The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing (After Hours Editions 2021) and Playdate (The W.C. #58 2022) are available for sale at White Columns. White Columns will host a reading by Hou in April of 2022 (details forthcoming.)


John Maclean, Windmill, 2020, watercolour and collage on board.

John Maclean

White Columns is proud to announce the first solo exhibition by the London-based, Scottish artist John Maclean. Maclean studied at London’s Royal College of Art between 1994 and 1996. He was a founding member of the legendary group The Beta Band (1996-2005), for whom he also directed a series of brilliantly idiosyncratic videos. In 2009 Maclean directed his first short film ‘Man On A Motorcycle’ starring Michael Fassbender. His feature film ‘Slow West’ was released to wide critical acclaim in 2015. After a long hiatus John Maclean returned to painting during the pandemic and started to post images of the resulting works to his Instagram account.

What follows is edited from an online conversation between White Columns’ Director Matthew Higgs and John Maclean in early March 2022.

Matthew Higgs: After studying at London’s Royal College of Art in the mid-1990s you became involved with The Beta Band. Did you put painting on hold during this era?

John Maclean: When we were in the studio recording, I always made sure I had a space for painting. There is so much waiting around when you are in a band. Most of what I made during that time was used as artwork for the covers and inside sleeves of The Beta Band’s albums.

MH: The Beta Band had a very particular aesthetic (both sonic and visual), that suggested an interest in folk-like, even outsider-ish forms of expression: one that seemed to run counter to the late-20th century’s promise of technology?

JM: Our aim was to embrace technology but to keep our whole sound organic, not rigid. Even now when I listen to old house music – Marshall Jefferson’s ‘Move Your Body’ for example – there is something organic and awkward about it: a quality that give it its soul, its human-ness. With The Beta Band it was an attempt to combine current technology with organic, analog instrumentation in the most seamless way possible. The same rules applied to our use of photoshop with hand-cut elements in the collages that we used. We wanted the band’s magazine ‘The Flower Press,’ our music videos, our press pictures, and the overall aesthetic of the group to have an equal importance to the music. I’d always loved The Velvet Underground, The KLF, and to a lesser extent The Stone Roses, for this very reason.  

MH: After The Beta Band (and your subsequent band The Aliens) your focus shifted to filmmaking. Are there analogies to be drawn between your approach to filmmaking and your approach to painting?

JM: Painting is most like writing – in terms of its relationship to filmmaking. You need time to think and to experiment. It is essentially a lonely pursuit. Much of one’s time is spent on research, on dreaming, on false starts and minor breakthroughs. When it comes to actually shooting a film, it’s probably as far from painting as can be; making a film is all collaboration, a form of improvised madness, watching the clock, and shifting with the external circumstances. I love this social and chaotic aspect of filmmaking precisely because it’s the opposite of painting.

MH: Did you return to painting during the pandemic?

JM: I returned to painting during the pandemic, starting in 2020. My latest film was stalling, the funding was tricky to get together. It was amazing to return to painting with such strict boundaries. I decided from the outset that all the paintings would be the same small scale, that I would paint on my writing desk at home, and use only watercolors and collage, so our house would not get full of fumes! 

MH: How would you describe your approach to painting?

JM: When I was at the Royal College of Art, I was probably too young, but I also felt the pressure for my work to be about SOMETHING – e.g., politically, socially, etc. I ultimately didn’t know what to paint. I think I was too obsessed with what I thought of as ‘the new’ aesthetic, artists such as Martin Kippenberger or Mike Kelley, etc. I didn’t really appreciate the history of painting as much as I do now. The most liberating aspect of making paintings during the lockdown, was simply deciding to paint whatever the hell I wanted, just for me. The imagery was mostly sourced from the internet. I gravitated towards images that were often badly printed, or images that had been hand-tinted. I wanted to try to paint something real – e.g., a landscape – but I was not interested in painting an actual landscape, rather I was very consciously painting from a photograph of a landscape. Many of the resulting paintings are based on imagery taken from old postcards, where I tend to focus-in on the backgrounds, zooming-in, re-framing them, so they become more abstract, more economical. So, there might have been a figure or a building in the center of the original postcard image, but in the top corner, in the background there was a tree. I’ll paint that tree. Often the postcards have strange chromatic glitches or shifts, e.g., sometimes the sky might be an intense pink, or a lake appears to be a vivid green, and I’ll accentuate or amplify that color in my paintings, so that the resulting images takes on an even more dream-like or hypnotic state.

John Maclean (b. Perth, Scotland 1972) lives and works in London, England. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland (1990-1994) and the Royal College of Art (1994-1996). He was a founding member of the groups The Beta Band (1996-2005) and The Aliens (2005-2010). Between 1998 and 2021 he has directed numerous music videos for The Beta Band, The Aliens and Django Django. His short film ‘Man On A Motorcycle’ was released in 2009, and his widely celebrated first feature film ‘Slow West’ was released in 2015. He has exhibited his art only occasionally in group shows between 1994 and 2004. This is his first solo exhibition.

For further information:

White Columns
91 Horatio Street
New York, NY 10014
Tuesday–Saturday, 11 AM–6 PM