Glenn Ligon

Untitled (America)/Debris Field/Synecdoche/Notes for a Poem on the Third World

January 12 – February 17, 2019

Press preview with the artist: Saturday, January 12, 11:00 am

Opening reception: Saturday, January 12, 6:00 – 8:00 pm

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm


Regen Projects is pleased to announce Untitled (America)/Debris Field/Synecdoche/Notes for a Poem on the Third World, an exhibition of new work by Glenn Ligon. For this exhibition, Ligon will present a new series of silkscreen paintings based on abstracted letter forms and several neon installations. This marks the artist’s sixth solo presentation at the gallery.


Glenn Ligon’s wide-ranging multimedia art practice encompasses painting, neon, photography, sculpture, print, installation, and video. Perhaps best known for his monochromatic and highly textured text paintings that draw their content from American history, popular culture, and literary works by writers such as James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Gertrude Stein, and Jean Genet, among others, his work explores issues of history, language, and cultural identity.


Titled Debris Field, the silkscreen paintings are made using a new process for the artist. Rather than generating from a specific text, Ligon focuses on letter forms, using images of his own etchings and stencil-and-ink drawings to create large silkscreens, which are then printed in black etching ink on red canvases, some with additional passages of hand-stenciling. Each screen is overlapped to create a dense pattern of letter-based shapes, resulting in an improvisatory, cumulative painting technique.

Over the years, Ligon has created neon sculptures that illuminate various phrases or words in charged and animated ways. Ligon’s first figurative neon sculpture, Notes for a Poem on the Third World, is based on a tracing of the artist's hands that takes its inspiration from an unrealized film project by Pier Paolo Pasolini that was to be shot in India, Africa, the Arab countries, Latin America, and the "black ghettoes of the United States." Pasolini claimed that it was the "discovery of the elsewhere" that drove his identification with the struggles of non-Western peoples and people on the margins of the West. Ligon's neon, with its ambiguous gesture of greeting, protest, or surrender, is the first of a series of works inspired by Pasolini’s project.


Also featured in the exhibition is Untitled (America), 2018, a black-painted red neon in which the word “America” is displayed upside down, and Synecdoche (For Byron Kim), a neon showing the date of the next presidential election that will be lit on that day.


Glenn Ligon (b. 1960) lives and works in New York. His solo exhibitions include Camden Arts Centre, London (2014-15); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2011); The Power Plant, Toronto (2005); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001); Kunstverein, Munich (2001); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2000); and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (1998). His work was included in Documenta XI (2002); in two Whitney Biennials (1991, 1993); and in All the World’s Futures at the 56th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia (2015). Recent curatorial projects include Blue Black at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (2017) and Encounters and Collisions, done in collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary and Tate Liverpool (2015).

Ligon has received numerous awards and recognitions for his work, including the Smithsonian Archives of American Art Archives of American Art Medal (2017); the Visual AIDS Vanguard Award (2016); the Studio Museum’s Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize (2009); the Skowhegan Medal for Painting (2006); a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2003); and a Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (1997).

Recent monographs and publications on his work include Debris Field/ Notes for a Poem on the Third World/ Soleil Nègre (Galerie Chantal Crousel/Is—Land édition, 2018); Untitled (I am a Man) (Afterall Books, 2018); Blue Black (Pulitzer Arts Foundation, 2017);  A People on the Cover (Ridinghouse, 2015); Encounters and Collisions (Nottingham Contemporary and Tate, 2015); Come Out (Ridinghouse, 2014); Glenn Ligon: AMERICA (Whitney Museum of American Art, 2011); Yourself in the World: Selected Writings and Interviews (Yale University Press, 2011). 

Ligon’s work is held in the permanent collections of museums worldwide including Tate Modern, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Broad, Los Angeles; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles; among others.


An opening reception will be held on Saturday, January 12, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.


For all press inquiries, please contact Ben Thornborough at +1 310 276 5424 or


For all other inquiries, please contact Isha Welsh, Jane McCarthy, or Irina Stark at Regen Projects.