Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
Tavares Strachan, Six Thousand Years (2018) Inkjet print, pigment, enamel, vinyl, graphite, Mylar, spray paint, cut 11 x 8 x 2 1/8 in. (27.9 x 20.3 x 5.4 cm) [each, 832 panels total] Courtesy of Regen Projects Los Angeles, photo by Bryan Forrest.
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Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
18th June, 2024 — 1st September, 2024
Hayward Gallery
Southbank Centre
Belvedere Road

Full price standard: £18
Concessions available & Southbank Centre Members go free

This summer the Hayward Gallery will present Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere (18 June – 1 September 2024), the first mid-career survey of the New York-based, Bahamian artist. A recipient of the MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’, Strachan has created a range of boldly inventive and ambitious exhibitions over the past two decades, including presentations at the 2019 Venice Biennale and the 2018 Carnegie International, establishing him as one of the most compelling, imaginative and audacious artists of his generation.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
Tavares Strachan, A Map of the Crown (Congo Candle Wick), 2022. Bronze, human hair, wood. 69 3/4 x 23 5/8 x 23 5/8 in. (177 x 59.9 x 59.9 cm). Courtesy of the artist, photo: Claire Dorn.

Whether making expeditions to the North Pole and sending back a 4.5 ton block of Arctic ice to his birthplace in the Bahamas; launching into orbit a gold sculpture of the first Black American in the US space programme; or creating his own alternative 3,000-page encyclopaedia, Strachan has worked to expand the boundaries of contemporary art with the imaginative verve of a true pioneer.

This multifaceted exhibition will showcase the ways in which Strachan’s art vividly highlights key questions of cultural visibility. Dedicated to telling ‘lost stories’, Strachan celebrates unsung explorers and neglected cultural trailblazers, inviting audiences to engage with overlooked characters whose lives illuminate histories hidden by bias. Featuring monumental new sculptural commissions alongside striking large-scale collages, neon works, bronze and ceramic sculptures, and mixed-media installations, Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere will take visitors on a journey of discovery and recovery that is simultaneously playful and impactful. Strachan’s vividly realised stories of erasure and remembrance shine a light not only on histories of colonialism and racism, but also on how the past impacts the universal desire for a sense of belonging.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
Tavares Strachan
Photo by Miho Suzuki, courtesy of the artist

My practice as an artist is a quest to reveal hidden histories and to tell lost stories with a weight that matches the profound nature of the characters I speak for. I have always thought about making as a form of storytelling, a way for us to engage in things that might be more difficult to grasp during the normal course of our day

Tavares Strachan

A third section of the exhibition will feature recent work, mostly made during the past five years, in which the artist imaginatively remaps lost connections to traditional African cultures. Distant Relatives (2020) pairs tribal masks from different regions of Africa and Papua New Guinea with plaster busts of Black cultural figures in the West, ranging from well-known figures such as author James Baldwin and singer Nina Simone to Jamaican-British nurse and entrepreneur Mary Jane Seacole. A selection of Black cultural and political figures – from writer Derek Walcott to activist Steven Biko – also appear in Strachan’s painted, ceramic sculptures, which recall traditional clay ceremonial vessels and pots whilst bringing together dream-like mixes of objects and symbols that hint at a spiritual or mythic dimension to these public personae. The exhibition will also include a new and enlarged version of Coronation Hut (2022), an installation that implicitly links the pageantry through which the British crown is empowered and legitimated to ancient African village rituals.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
Tavares Strachan, Lift Off #1, 2008-09. Two glass rockets, Bahamas sugar fuel cell. 15 x 73 x 23 ¼ in38.1 x 185.4 x 59.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist, photo by Tom Powel Imaging.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue designed in close collaboration with the artist. It features an introduction and interview with the artist by Hayward Gallery Director Ralph Rugoff, new essays by writer and curator Ekow Eshun and American academic Maggie Cao, and an index featuring short biographies of some of the leading characters that feature in Strachan’s art.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere is curated by Hayward Gallery Director Ralph Rugoff, with Assistant Curator Thomas Sutton and Curatorial Assistant Hannah Martin. Its themes will also inspire the Southbank Centre’s wider multi-artform programme ‘You Belong Here’ across the summer of 2024, exploring the notion of welcome and belonging.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere
Tavares Strachan, Robert, 2018. Blue neon, purple neon, Pyrex, transformers, MDF box. 64 H × 17 D × 17 W in. 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, May You

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere is kindly supported by the Exhibition Supporters’ Group: Perrotin, Marian Goodman Gallery, Bridgitt and Bruce Evans, Simon Morris and Annalisa Burello and those who wish to remain anonymous. Additional support for the exhibition’s outdoor public artwork is provided by VIA Art Fund.

Tavares Strachan: There Is Light Somewhere opens on the 18th of June, 2024 until the 1st of September, 2024 at the Hayward Gallery

©2024 Hayward Gallery