In its 2001 exhibition “Freestyle,” the Studio Museum in Harlem ushered a brilliant batch of emerging artists of African and Latino descent onto the art world’s main stage. To our immense benefit, several more such group introductions have followed, “Fictions” being the latest.
Like its predecessors, the show has no overarching theme but lots of connective tissue in terms of forms and ideas. The Studio Museum has always been a showcase for figurative painting, and continues to be with Christina Quarles’s surreal picture of mantis-limbed lovers; Amy Sherald’s pair of grave, graceful somnambulists; and Devan Shimoyama’s enchanted painting of a queer-style barbershop shape-up in progress: the sitter has gold skin, plastic flowers for eyes and weeps rhinestone tears.
Deborah Roberts moves in a mixed-media direction in her small collages of combative female adult-children brandishing boxing gloves. And Genevieve Gaignard goes further still in a full-scale installation of a grandmotherly living room, in which every detail speaks of her own biracial identity. Her piece is essentially a self-portrait. Another, by the artist Texas Isaiah, who describes himself as a “transmasculine femme boy,” is in the form of a single photograph. And a third, by Sherrill Roland, comes in several parts.