Gagosian is pleased to present From a Tropical Space, an exhibition of new paintings by Titus Kaphar. This is Kaphar’s first exhibition with the gallery and inaugurates his representation.
A painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist, Kaphar reexamines American history by deconstructing existing representations and styles through his own formal innovations. His practice seeks to dislodge history from its status as “past” in order to understand its continuing impact on the present. Using materials including tar, glass, and rusted nails—together with highly refined oil painting—and employing techniques such as cutting, shredding, stitching, binding, and erasing, he reworks canonical art historical codes and conventions. And by uncovering the conceptual and narrative underpinnings of certain source images, he explores the manipulation of cultural and personal identity as a central thematic concern while inventing new narratives.
While much of Kaphar’s work begins with an exhaustive study of pre-twentieth-century master painting techniques, From a Tropical Space sees him wield these various methods to create an emotionally saturated visual landscape that is entirely contemporary. Just as artists, through time, have translated the fraught and mercurial sociopolitical contexts in which they operate into new and often radical aesthetic modes, so do the pervasive social and cultural anxieties of the world in which we find ourselves resonate throughout Kaphar’s new work.
In From a Tropical Space, Kaphar presents a haunting narrative of Black motherhood wherein collective fear and trauma crescendo in the disappearance of children, literalized through the physical excision of their images from the canvases themselves. The absence of each juvenile figure—whether seated in a stroller or held in a woman’s arms—reveals only the blank gallery wall beneath. The intense coloration of the suburban environments in which the figures are set only heightens a pervasive tension—these are images for uncertain times. Included in the exhibition is Analogous Colors (2020). Demonstrating further the broader resonance of Kaphar’s recent work, the painting was featured on the cover of the June 15 issue of Time magazine, which included a report on the protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Kaphar’s work and practice reflect on the experience and perception of historically underrepresented and marginalized groups, including the African American community. Key to Gagosian’s representation of the artist is the gallery’s substantive ongoing support for NXTHVN (Next Haven), a new national arts model established by Titus Kaphar with cofounder and chairman of the board Jason Price and cofounder Jonathan Brand in 2015. Located in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut, NXTHVN nurtures creative talent within and beyond the local community, offering fellowships, residencies, and other professional development opportunities to artists, curators, and local high school students. NXTHVN is housed in two repurposed factory buildings designed by Deborah Berke Partners, where it maintains exhibition and performance spaces in addition to studio and co-working facilities.
522 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10011
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10–6 by appointment only
In the interest of public health, please read the new guidelines for visiting the West 21st Street gallery.
Titus Kaphar: From a Tropical Space
Join the artist in his studio in New Haven, Connecticut, where he speaks about his latest paintings.
Titus Kaphar: Can Beauty Open Our Hearts to Difficult Conversations?
In this TED talk, presented during the sweeping protests against racism and police violence following the killing of George Floyd, Titus Kaphar describes how the beauty of a painting can draw the viewer in and allow difficult conversations to emerge. Kaphar discusses his own work and shares the idea behind NXTHVN, a new national arts model he founded to empower artists of color through education and access.
Seeing the Child: Braiding possibility
Titus Kaphar and Tochi Onyebuchi present an excerpt from their short story “Seeing the Child,” a poetic rumination on Kaphar’s latest body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–).
Titus Kaphar: In the Studio
Jacoba Urist reports on a recent trip to the artist’s studio in New Haven, Connecticut, to see his new body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–). She writes on the emotional and sensory impact of these paintings and considers their singular place in Titus Kaphar’s oeuvre.
Titus Kaphar: Intricate Illusion
Bridget R. Cooks investigates the aesthetic and narrative conventions deployed by the artist, demonstrating how his paintings force provocative confrontations with history through complex modes of depiction.
Titus Kaphar: Can Art Amend History?
Join Titus Kaphar as he talks about making paintings and sculptures that wrestle with the struggles of the past while speaking to the diversity and advances of the present. Working onstage, he points to the narratives coded in the language of art history as he creates a new painting, demonstrating how shifting our focus can prompt us to ask questions and confront unspoken truths.
May 6–12, 2020
Painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and installation artist Titus Kaphar confronts history by dismantling classical structures and styles of visual representation in Western art in order to subvert them. Dislodging entrenched narratives from their status as “past” so as to understand and estimate their impact on the present, he exposes the conceptual underpinnings of contested nationalist histories and colonialist legacies and how they have served to manipulate both cultural and personal identity.
Titus Kaphar in his studio with his painting The Aftermath (2020), New Haven, Connecticut, 2020. Artwork © Titus Kaphar. Photo: John Lucas
Gagosian is pleased to announce the representation of Titus Kaphar. A painter, sculptor, and filmmaker whose work addresses salient social and political concerns, Kaphar employs deconstructive techniques such as cutting, shredding, charring, and erasing, combining them with reconstructive acts such as stitching and binding to reexamine visual representation in Western art. Wielding the pictorial strategies of European classicists such as Diego Velázquez and Théodore Géricault in order to probe contested histories and colonialist legacies, he rewrites them into narratives of cultural empowerment. In his latest series of paintings, From a Tropical Space (2019–), Kaphar creates surreal, emotionally intense landscapes that are firmly rooted in the present. In conjunction with Kaphar’s representation by Gagosian, the gallery is also supporting NXTHVN (Next Haven), a nonprofit arts hub that the artist founded with Jason Price and Jonathan Brand in 2015 in the Dixwell neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut.
Titus Kaphar. Photo: Sasha Arutyunova
Extended through September 4, 2020
March 12–September 4, 2020
West 21st Street, New York