Titus Kaphar: From a Tropical Space
October 1, 2020 - December 19, 2020
522 West 21st Street
New York, NY 10011

Time magazine’s June 15 issue featured a special report on the protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police. On the cover, a harrowing painted image by Titus Kaphar, Analogous Colors (2020), gave pause—it depicts a Black mother holding the silhouette of a child, which the artist created by physically cutting into a canvas. In an accompanying poem, the artist writes: “In her expression, I see the Black mothers who are unseen, and rendered helpless in this fury against their babies. As I listlessly wade through another cycle of violence against Black people, / I painted a Black mother… / eyes closed, / furrowed brow, / holding the contour of her loss.”

For his inaugural solo exhibition with Gagosian, Kaphar expands on this emotionally resonant message with paintings that present a haunting narrative of Black motherhood, wherein collective fear and trauma crescendo in the disappearance of children. Like Analogous Colors, Kaphar makes it literal by physically excising each child’s image from the canvas, revealing only the blank gallery wall underneath. The absence of each juvenile figure—whether seated in a stroller or held in a woman’s arms—clashes with the intense coloration of the environments in which the figures are set, heightening a pervasive tension.

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