Tavares Strachan: The Return

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
26 Aug 2023 - 07 Oct 2023

Tavares Strachan
Uncontainable Exultation, 2023. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

Tavares Strachan Uncontainable Exultation, 2023. Courtesy of Goodman Gallery

Goodman Gallery presents The Return, the first solo exhibition on the African continent for Nassau-born, New York-based interdisciplinary conceptual artist Tavares Strachan. The show includes ceramics, which are being displayed in an exhibition context for the first time, as well as new paintings and locally created, handwoven tapestries – all of which have been made specifically for this presentation.

Over the past two decades, Strachan has formed a research-intensive practice that taps into art, science, history, and cultural critique with thematic investigations related to invisibility, displacement and loss. The artist’s primary interest is storytelling, with a focus on how an experience has an impact on the viewer. This is extended into his considerations of multidimensional performance and how working in multiple mediums collides.

Central to the show is The Encyclopedia of Invisibility – a fifteen-year-long project resulting in an ongoing anthology of hidden stories that have been left out of history. This work anchors his thematic and material voyages, emphasising the necessity for articulating multiple histories, and how power operates in the production and recording of a singular narration of history.

The artist’s tapestries use text and subject matter from The Encyclopedia of Invisibility, weaving layered references together to explore an expanded visual enunciation of historical accounts, mapping out temporal and political connections. His paintings offer an intimate examination of cosmic influences, and highlight Strachan’s knowledge and fascination with astronomy. Work such as the Galaxy paintings chart space. They explore the idea that because of the infinite speed of light, when you gaze up into the night sky, you’re looking into the past, collapsing the way that we think about time.

The ceramic works, presented as totems of key African American, Caribbean and Brazilian figures, offer an expression of their stories as having a spiritual significance in addition to their social impact. The presence of clay in the exhibition also thickens Strachan’s consideration of materials as reflections of deep time.