FIVE GALLERY EXHIBITIONS, on view in New York City, explore similar themes—personal narratives and collective histories—across a wide variety of mediums and styles. Theaster Gates is presenting sculptures and conceptual installations. Nathaniel Oliver and Gerald Lovell make figurative paintings. Tuli Mekondjo’s textiles are mixed-media hanging works. Meanwhile, Richmond Barthé’s modernist sculptures are in conversation with photo-based works by Christopher Udemezue. Today is the final day for the Gates and Oliver shows. The others are open for another week:


NATHANIEL OLIVER, “So You’re The Captain,” 2023 (oil on canvas, 60 × 72 inches / 152.4 × 182.88 cm). © Nathaniel Oliver, Courtesy the artist and Karma Gallery

Nathaniel Oliver: My Journey Was Long So Yours Could Be Shorter @ Karma Gallery, 188 East 2nd Street (East Village), New York, N.Y. | Jan. 5–March 2, 2024

Karma is presenting its first exhibition with Nathaniel Oliver, whose narrative paintings are rooted in fantasy and draw on art history and his own experiences. The gallery notes a plethora of references that show up in Oliver’s figurative images, including Malian textiles, Nigerian ceremonial masks, Homer’s epic poetry, foliage native to the Caribbean where the artist’s father was born, oceanic motifs, and the legacy of the Middle Passage. Born in Washington, D.C., Oliver lives and works in New York. He recently discussed his work and the exhibition in a conversation with Helga Davis.


Installation view of “Theaster Gates: Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me,” White Cube New York, 2024. Shown, at center, “Sweet Sanctuary, Your Embrace” (piano), 2023. | Courtesy the artist and White Cube

Theaster Gates: Hold Me, Hold Me, Hold Me @ White Cube, 1002 Madison Avenue (Upper East Side), New York, N.Y. | Jan. 26-March 2, 2024

The unique practice of Chicago artist Theaster Gates engages with the built environment, craftsmanship, music, and archival collections. His latest exhibition spans sculpture, painting, and installation, including “Sweet Sanctuary, Your Embrace” (2023), a piano surfaced with a tar material that pays homage to Gates’s father, who worked as a roofer. “Be Real Black For Me” (1972), a duet by Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack, in which the phrase “hold me” is repeated, inspired the title of the exhibition.

Shifting the ideology of art from visually based to metronomic, Gates explores how sound holds pain and suffering, joy, temporality, memory and contingency. — White Cube Gallery


GERALD LOVELL, “Untitled (Christian’s Birthday),” 2023 (oil on panel, 72 x 60 inches / 182.9 x 152.4 cm). | © Gerald Lovell, Courtesy the artist and PPOW

Gerald Lovell: verde @ PPOW Gallery, 390 Broadway, 2nd Floor (Tribeca), New York, N.Y. | Feb. 2-March 9, 2024

Gerald Lovell’s paintings are autobiographical. The Chicago-born artist relocated from Atlanta to New York in 2021. His latest body of work documents his community, friends who have also managed to settle in the city, and his travels. “A lot of friends I’ve painted come from similar backgrounds and it’s just as wonderful for them as it is to me that we live the life that we live, and we get to share these moments together,” Lovell said about his subjects. The large-scale portraits are defined by a sense of freedom, adventure, individuality, and the quotidian. Lovell introduces his work in a video that accompanies the exhibition.


Installation view of Richmond Barthé and Christopher Udemezue: in this moisture between us where the guinep peels lay,” Ryan Lee Gallery, New York, N.Y., 2024. | Courtesy the artist and Ryan Lee Gallery

Richmond Barthé and Christopher Udemezue: in this moisture between us where the guinep peels lay @ Ryan Lee Gallery, 515 West 26th Street (Chelsea), New York, N.Y. | Jan. 25-March 9, 2024

Pairing the sculptures of acclaimed modernist Richmond Barthé (1901-1989) with the photo-based mixed-media works of interdisciplinary artist Christopher Udemezue (b. 1986), this exhibition considers queer Black perspectives across generations and mediums. Both artists have ties to Jamaica and “explore figural representation through myth and movement.”


TULI MEKONDJO, “Omumborombonga,” 2024 (archival image transfer, plant transfer, silk, and lace on cotton, 104.1 x 132.7 cm / 41 x 52 1/4 inches). | © Tuli Mekondjo, Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery

Tuli Mekondjo: SIDA | ÔANA MÂPA HÂ? Where are Our Children? An Ode to the Spirits of the South @ Hales Gallery, 547 West 20th Street (Chelsea), New York, N.Y. | Feb. 6-March 9, 2024

The mixed-media, textile works of Tuli Mekondjo pay homage to Southern Namibia, exploring notions of ancestry, identity, and displacement. For her second solo show with Hales gallery, Mekondjo is presenting a new body of work focused on the region’s history of colonialism, legacy of liberation, experiences of women and youth, and individual and collective trauma. The poetic works feature photo transfers of archival images and titles referencing settlements renamed by colonizers. Mekondjo lives and works in Windhoek, Namibia. CT


“Barthe: A Life in Sculpture” offers the first comprehensive overview of Richmond Barthé’s life and work. The exhibition catalogs “Theaster Gates: Young Lords and Their Traces” and “Black Chapel: Theaster Gates: Serpentine Pavillon 2022” were recently published. Other volumes include “Theaster Gates,” from Phaidon’s Contemporary Artists Series, “Theaster Gates: Every Square Needs a Circle,” “Theaster Gates: Black Madonna,” “Theaster Gates: How to Build a House Museum,” and “Theaster Gatees: Black Archive.” Also consider, “Theaster Gates: Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories: Reflections.” a collection of commissioned writings in response to the Facsimile Cabinet of Women Origin Stories, which includes nearly 3,000 framed images of women from the Johnson Publishing Company archive. “Theaster Gates: A Clay Sermon” documents a 2021 exhibition of his clay works at Whitechapel Gallery in London. The volume is forthcoming in May.


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