Opening of two group shows

Kavi Gupta, Chicago

July 10, 2021
July 9, 2021
Realms of Refuge: July 10–October 30, Gallery 1
Wadsworth Jarrell, Gerald Williams: Works on Paper: July 10–October 1, Gallery 2
Opening: July 10, 6–8pm

Kavi Gupta
219 N. Elizabeth St.
60607 Chicago, IL

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Two landmark group shows open Saturday July 10 in Chicago, at Kavi Gupta’s 219 Elizabeth Street location.

Opening in Gallery 1 (street level gallery), Realms of Refuge debuts new works by Dominic Chambers, Allana Clarke, Basil Kincaid, Tomokazu Matsuyama, Suchitra Mattai, Michi Meko, Devan Shimoyama, and Alisa Sikelianos-Carter. Focusing inward—in visual, material, narrative, and symbolic ways—the works collectively speak to the desire to retreat from the oppressive gaze, towards a safe space for creativity and renewal.

“Rest and stillness are essential to the creative act,” says curator Chanelle Lacy, Associate Director and Programming Manager for Kavi Gupta. “Realms of Refuge can be literal or symbolic zones—anywhere the intellect is nurtured, instinct is unhindered, and the soul is free to wander.”

Dominic Chambers’s idyllic painting Window Sitter, depicting a single Black figure peering out into a warm and luminescent cloudscape, embodies Chambers's ongoing examination of leisure, magical realism, and the Black subject. A new large-scale painting by Devan Shimoyama shows a glittery, full-body portrait of Shimoyama’s friend Anthony, seated in meditation. The seven chakras glow on his body, as silhouettes of his body fan out from the root chakra at the center point.

New sculptural works by Allana Clarke express ritualistic transformation through performative gestures embedded in surfaces constructed from hair bonding glue, a liquid latex commonly used to adhere hair extensions onto a person’s scalp. New paintings by Alisa Sikelianos-Carter present mythological bridges between the spirit world, infinite spacetime, magic, and myth.

New paintings by Tomokazu Matsuyama elegantly express what the artist refers to as “the struggle of reckoning the familiar local with the familiar global.” New works, including a site specific installation, by Michi Meko extrapolate his interest in the languages of wilderness spaces—those within himself and in the natural world alike.

New sculptural paintings by Suchitra Mattai tell visual stories that touch on her Indo-Caribbean lineage, addressing such topics as the legacy of colonialism, and relationships between culture and gender roles. Finally, a series of figurative quilts by Basil Kincaid speak to the need to make a safe space for reflection, rest, and creativity. Summarizing what the exhibition is about, Kincaid paraphrases a James Baldwin quote: “A place where you will belong won’t exist until you create it.”

Realms of Refuge is on view July 10 through October 30, 2021.

Opening in Gallery 2 (upstairs gallery), Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams: Works on Paper is the first exhibition to center the rarely seen, quieter, more speculative works that helped define the distinctive visual languages of these two AFRICOBRA founders. Crucial pioneers of the Black Arts Movement, Jarrell and Williams have consistently used paper as an experimental media with which to challenge themselves and evolve their methods.

Since their recent inclusion in such internationally acclaimed exhibitions as Soul of a Nation, AFRICOBRA 50, and AFRICOBRA: Nation Time, an official collateral exhibition of the 2019 Venice Biennale, Jarrell and Williams are known mostly for their painterly works on canvas and panel. Featuring a broad selection of drawings, prints, and paintings on paper dating from the 1950s through the present day—some never before exhibited— Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams: Works on Paper spotlights a cross-section of formal and technical innovations that the artists worked through over the decades and which came to define their individual positions. This rarely seen side of the two artists offers insights into the roots of their historic paintings, and expands upon the story of their transformation from artistic revolutionaries into contemporary legends.

Wadsworth Jarrell and Gerald Williams: Works on Paper is on view July 10 through August 1, 2021.