Theaster Gates: Every Square Needs a Circle
April 4, 2019 - June 29, 2019
Essay by Zachary Cahill
Published by Richard Gray Gallery
Hardcover, 115 pages, English, 2019
Ships from Chicago
Gray is pleased to announce the release of a special publication produced to document the exhibition, Theaster Gates: Every Square Needs a Circle. This exhibition and illustrated volume offer a detailed look at the artist’s recent work in multimedia sculpture and installation. Opening with a poem written by Theaster Gates alongside an essay by artist and writer Zachary Cahill, the publication also features 48 color illustrations, a detailed slipcase cover and gatefold image, and a chronology of the artist’s exhibitions.
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Every Square Needs a Circle marks a continuation of Gates’s long engagement with the work of American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois, whose examination of genius and progress in Black America from Emancipation to the mid-20th century has been a source of inspiration for the artist. Placing his interest in poetics and the history of objects, Gates debuts a multi-faceted installation that bridges the work of Du Bois with architectural excerpts from Chicago, expounding on the archives that hold and preserve records of Black intelligence.
Relating moments from art history to stories of quotidian labor, Every Square Needs a Circle is a rumination on materials, time and repetition. Gates elects a 1962 artwork by Agnes Martin titled Little Sister as a foundational moment for the exhibition. The small oil and ink painting on canvas—punctuated by hundreds of brass nails hammered onto a gridded composition—serves as the Modernist antecedent to Gates’s assertion that everyday processes are a means to soulful fulfillment. For Gates, this grid becomes a metaphor for the built environment onto which he imposes the physical history of his native Chicago. A monumental gridded pavilion sits central to the exhibition acting as a reliquary for sculptures made in ceramic, wood and concrete. Using architectural elements and archival materials, Gates puts forth a critique of the city that comments on Black economies and empire building. Gates explains, "the work is not about a social mission. It is about sculpture and how things I believe in manifest through the material world.”