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Hop to it: Almost six decades of Hervé Télémaque’s work to be exhibited at Aspen Art Museum

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Courtesy of Hervé Télémaque
Hervé Télémaque’s “Al l’en Guinée (Going to Guinea),” an acrylic on canvas piece from 2019, is one of nearly 40 works spanning almost six decades in the artist’s solo exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum. The show, “A Hopscotch of the Mind,” opens Friday.

Since the late 1950s, artist Hervé Télémaque has captured the pervasive impact of racism, colonialism and imperialism through vibrant works that are often as visually playful as the themes are serious.

Now, at the age of 84, the artist will finally have his first solo exhibition in an American museum: “A Hopscotch of the Mind” opens at the Aspen Art Museum on Friday.

Two floors of the museum are filled with nearly 40 works spanning almost six decades of Télémaque’s career.

In this exhibition, designed by Helen Marten, pieces are organized not by the date they were created nor by the medium of the work but, rather, by visual connections. A museum visitor might see one piece from 1965 and another from 2019 at the same time, or might compare a sculpture with a painting that has a similar theme.

“There's an intrinsic connection as well, a network that you can draw between the different references,” said Joseph Constable, a co-curator for the show. “So we wanted to make that obvious in some of the works.”

Constable said the idea is for people to immerse themselves in the bold, chaotic world of Télémaque’s art without getting caught up in the chronology.

“It's really about this nonlinear approach to the work so that when visitors come here, they can really carve out their own pathway,” Constable said. “It all comes together in this very idiosyncratic way, which is the way that he works.”

Hence the name of the show: “A Hopscotch of the Mind.”

The exhibition debuted at the Serpentine Galleries in London before coming to Aspen.

The larger museum footprint here made room for about 25% more works in this iteration — including some pieces that have never before been shown to a public audience.

The museum layout also afforded the exhibition team more creativity with how the pieces are displayed.

Marten joined the exhibition team specifically for the Aspen Art Museum installation with the intention of creating different perspectives and viewpoints throughout the museum, Constable said.

“A Hopscotch of the Mind” opens Friday and runs through March 26.

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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.