Titus Kaphar: On Contemporary Art and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Article: "On Contemporary Art and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement"

(Huffington Post)

"While visiting Titus Kaphar's exhibition Asphalt and Chalk at Jack Shainman Galleryin Chelsea, New York in early February, I was struck by the power, simplicity and deceptive ordinariness of two small panels, a diptych, near the entrance. On one panel a raised clenched fist, realistically rendered, has been all but obliterated by what appear to be rapidly applied expressionist strokes of white paint; on the other an open palm has been given a similar whiteout treatment.

Both hands are black, and written in white paint at the bottom-right of the respective panels are the numbers "68" and "14." This piece, painted last year, is cryptically titled1968/2014. The exhibition features other larger paintings, such as Another Fight For Remembrance (2014), showing crowded scenes of black figures with hands raised and open against a dark night sky, their faces partially visible, obscured by the riot of glowing white paint. In all, these works give the impression of a struggle between an inchoate yet assertive whiteness bent on erasing the thoughtfully rendered, gesturing black bodies.

Although these paintings rehearse the painterly tactics we have come to associate with Kaphar's pictorial archaeology of Euro-American art history and racial experience, they speak more directly to recent events in the United States, specifically the fatal shooting by police of the unarmed black youth from Ferguson, Missouri, Michael Brown, on August 9, 2014. To be sure, Brown's death at the hands of the police marks only one of several such incidents that occur with alarming frequency; but it touched an already raw nerve and set off mass demonstrations -- and, unfortunately, the occasional riot -- such as the streets of America have not seen since the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, following the acquittal of policemen caught on tape beating another black man, Rodney King."   more at Huffington Post

Titus Kaphar Finding Moses 2006 Taylor Collection Denver