The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery’s new Chelsea location will soon present a series of works by late artist Benny Andrews for the exhibition There Must Be a Heaven. The show will offer 36 paintings by Andrews spanning four decades, and the first solo exhibition of his work since his death in 2006.
Andrews’ subjects revolved around the lifestyles of people living and growing up in his hometown of Plainview, Georgia. He also portrayed people expressing their religious faith by living decent lives while holding on to the notion of a greater afterlife. One poignant work in the show also titled There Must Be a Heaven depicts a man bending own halfway, looking up and holding out his hands as though praying and crying out to the Lord.
A piece titled Many Sins illustrates a thick body of clouds with angels and right below them are groups of people shown literally suffering from others’ sins. One of Andrews’ more domestic paintings is Dinner Time which depicts a typical African family with a father and two grown children sitting at the family dinner table while the family matriarch prepares the family meal.
Andrews was an abstract expressionist painter who joined US Air Force in 1950, in the midst of the Korean War, and was honorably discharge in 1954. Shortly afterward, Andrews enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago where he earned his degree in 1958 and left Chicago for New York City.
Upon moving to New York, the artist settled in a small apartment on the Lower East Side where he developed his “rough collage” technique that became integral to his style. He continued to paint, exhibit, travel, write, and teach until his death from cancer at age 76.
Andrews’ work is featured in more than 30 permanent collections at major museums including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The MoMA, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, The High Museum in Atlanta, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
At The Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, 100 Eleventh Ave., through May 18. There will be an opening reception Saturday, March 16th, from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.