When Marcus Jahmal informed me, not long after our visit at his Brooklyn studio, that his forthcoming exhibition would be titled Fragments, my mind ineluctably leapt to the narrator’s refrain in Donald Barthelme’s 1966 short story See the Moon?: “Fragments are the only forms I trust.”

Trust may be a stretch, but counterposed against the slick fictions of totality, linearity, and enclosure, fragments feel truer to the ways in which meaning often comes to us: in pieces, more readily navigable by associative, recursive, and oneiric logics than linear ones. Fragments comprises 13 flat, graphic, closely cropped paintings, each of which is a fragment of an earlier painting by the artist, akin to a slivered dream. Flouting the contemporary art market’s aversion to the recent past, Jahmal revisited his own work from the last two years, lingering on surreal tableaux in which lone figures and animals preside over perspectivally screwy interiors in intense hues. He zoomed in on slices of these pictures and filtered them through the lens of the present—the present moment, the present painter—to make them anew, intuitively shifting his palette (a scumbled maroon wall there is a fleshy Guston-esque pink here) and evocatively swapping out symbols (a skull there is a man here). – Cassie Packard, writer

Fragments is on view at Almine Rech in Shanghai through March 2, 2024