Opening hours Gallery: Wednesday to Sunday 12–5pm

Howardena Pindell

A New Language

Howardena Pindell

A New Language

Howardena Pindell, Untitled, (1972), Installation view, Spike Island, Bristol. Courtesy the artist. Collection of Santan Dave. Photograph by Dan Weill



An exhibition surveying Howardena Pindell’s six-decade-long career, from early abstract paintings to more overtly political works that tackle subjects including slavery, violence against Black and Indigenous people, and the AIDS pandemic. The show takes its title from an essay written by Pindell in the 1980s, in which she calls for ‘a new language’ for people of colour working in the arts—one which ‘empowers us and does not cause us to participate in our own disenfranchisement’.

Please be aware that works in this exhibition feature images and descriptions of racial violence, including lynching. Our gallery team will be available if you have any concerns or would like to discuss the work.

A New Language is organised by the Fruitmarket, Edinburgh in collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge and Spike Island, Bristol

Close up of a light blue painting by Howardena Pindell

Self-Care and Wellbeing Guide

At Spike Island we are committed to creating equal and inclusive spaces. We have been working with Zya Community to offer self care support and information for our visitors and staff in relation to the exhibition.

Read here


Howardena Pindell (b.1943, Philadelphia, PA) works across painting and film. She is an activist, critic and teacher who spent over a decade working at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as one of the institution’s first Black curators. Largely known for her monumentally scaled abstract canvases, Pindell has expanded the definition of what abstract painting can be through her inclusion of glitter, paper circles made from punched holes, and the layering of mixed media and scent. She rose to prominence through the late 1970s and early 1980s and had a major solo exhibition at the Studio Museum, Harlem in 1986.

Throughout her career Pindell has exhibited extensively. Notable solo and group exhibitions include: the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Whitney Museum of American Art; PS1, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Museum Brandhorst, Munich. In 2020, an exhibition of new work at The Shed, New York articulated Pindell’s response to racism and white supremacy against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement and growing international outrage at anti-Black state violence in the US and elsewhere, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

Image of Howardena Pindell's book, 'A New Language' on plain background.

Order the book: A New Language

This book presents Pindell’s inspiring and unflinchingly active imagination, and explores her articulation of a ‘new language’ as exemplary in articulating empowerment.

Order online

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