Skin + Masks: Decolonizing Art Beyond the Politics of Visibility curated by Vic Mensa: Kavi Gupta | Elizabeth Street
“Before it can adopt a positive voice, freedom requires an effort at disalienation.”
—Frantz Fanon (b. 1925, d. 1961)
Kavi Gupta | 219 N. Elizabeth St. Chicago, IL. 60607
Opening reception: Saturday, June 18, from 5 - 9 PM
Kavi Gupta presents SKIN + MASKS, a group show curated by Vic Mensa, Grammy-nominated rapper, author, singer, visual artist, activist, NAACP Image Awards nominee, and founder of SaveMoneySaveLife, a Chicago-based, philanthropic non-profit organization operating at the intersection of art, entertainment, and sustainable social change.
Operational since 2018, SaveMoneySaveLife has forwarded initiatives in violence prevention and supported youth arts programs in response to evolving community needs. Kavi Gupta will donate all proceeds from SKIN + MASKS to SaveMoneySaveLife for use in creating infrastructure and providing resources for young artists in Accra, Ghana. "Ghana is the hub of fine art in West Africa right now," says Mensa, whose family is Ghanaian. "What's needed is resources."
Mensa’s creative and political work centers the need for critical thinking, honest self-expression, and public truth-telling. He first became aware of the disparities that exist between the rich and poor in America while growing up in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He learned to express his thoughts and feelings through the arts.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve been an artist,” Mensa says. “Drawing, singing, painting, rapping, you name it. It’s my lifestyle, my method of self-expression.”
Nikko Washington, Swing on "Em, 2021. Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 x 2 in.
For his curatorial debut with Kavi Gupta, Mensa deploys a seminal text by Antilles-born author Frantz Fanon (b. 1925 — d. 1961) as a foundation for a group art exhibition aimed at decolonizing Black art beyond the politics of visibility.
“Before it can adopt a positive voice,” Fanon writes, “freedom requires an effort at disalienation.”
Fanon wrote brilliantly about the ways that the barriers of race impede our ability to experience humanity. Published in 1952, his book Black Skin, White Masks is a psychoanalytical tour-de-force, exposing how colonization weaponized skin as an agent of alienation, imposing an existential divide on people, Black and White.
“The White man is sealed in his whiteness,” Fanon Writes. “The Black man in his blackness.”
Thelonious Stokes, A Post Mortem Portrait of Emmett and Louis Till, 2021. Oil on canvas in gold frame, 79 x 57 in.
The supremacy assumed and projected by the European, colonial White gaze causes Black people to experience what Fanon calls “an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage” that separates them from the development of an individuated self image. This prevents Black people and White people alike from experiencing anything close to true freedom.
“I believe that the fact of the juxtaposition of the White and Black races has created a massive psychoexistential complex,” Fanon writes. “I hope by analyzing it to destroy it.”
SKIN + MASKS will center work by a range of contemporary artists who, like Fanon, are striving to understand and express the meaning of Black identity not from the vantage point of White gaze, but from the perspective of individual realities, including:
SKIN + MASKS: Decolonizing Art Behind the Politics of Visibility. Curated by Vic Mensa. Published by Kavi Gupta, 2022. Paperback, 14 pages, 10 x 5.5 in.
SKIN + MASKS: Decolonizing Art Beyond the Politics of Visibility
Curated by Vic Mensa
Featuring biographies of participating artists including Gerald Williams, Sherman Beck & Nikko Washington.
Published by Kavi Gupta, 2022.
Paperback, 14 pages, 10 x 5.5 in.
SKIN + MASKS Capsule Collection | COMING SOON
To further support the initiatives of SaveMoneySaveLife, Kavi Gupta | Editions will release an exclusive SKIN + MASKS capsule collection of crew-necks and tote bags. The graphics featured in this collection draw inspiration from the original cover design of Frantz Fanon's BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASKS–the seminal text that served as the conceptual basis for Vic Mensa's first foray into curation.
Armani HowardThrough The Grape Vine, 2022Acrylic on canvas72 1/2 x 56 x 2 in
184.2 x 142.2 x 5.1 cm
Troy ScatUntitled, 2022Acrylic on canvas62 x 44 x 2 in
157.5 x 111.8 x 5.1 cm
Foster SakyiamahCherry Fair Lady, 202236 1/4 x 31 1/2 in
92 x 80 cm
Foster SakyiamahBlossom Fair Lady, 202239 3/8 x 39 3/8 in
100 x 100 cm
Dada KhanyisaWonder where I’d be had I not placed desirability at the forefront of my identity, 2022Mixed media33 1/8 x 48 7/8 x 4 in
84 x 124 x 10 cm
Muna MalikDark Times, 2022Acrylic, Pastel, Charcoal on canvas53 1/2 x 100 1/8 in
135.9 x 254.3 cm
Nikko WashingtonSwing On 'Em, 2021Oil and on canvas48 x 60 x 2 in
121.9 x 152.4 x 5.1 cm
Mikey ColemanWhea the wild things are, 2022Oil on canvas68 x 68 x 1 1/2 in
172.7 x 172.7 x 3.8 cm
Terron Cooper SorrellsThe Great Migration, 2022Acrylic on canvas84 x 72 in
213.4 x 182.9 cm
Ndidikanma EmefieleCan’t quench the raging flames of pain, 2022Acrylic, watercolour pencils and compact disc on paper101 5/8 x 120 1/8 in
258.1 x 305.1 cm
Andrea ColemanBlack Appolo, 2022Digital print on canvas42 x 38 x 1 in
106.7 x 96.5 x 2.5 cm
Andrea ColemanBig Papa Al, 2022Digital print on canvas47 1/4 x 38 x 1 in
120 x 96.5 x 2.5 cm
Mia LeeA Lady from Roatán Always Fixes Her Dinner Last, 2022Oil, acrylic, plaster55 x 80 in
139.7 x 203.2 cm
Joshua DonkorI Have More Souls Than One, 2022Oil and image transfers on board31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in
80 x 60 cm
Sydnie JimenezHappy Sad Mad Girl (Double Edge Sword), 2022Ceramic, slip, and glaze49 x 18 x 11 in
124.5 x 45.7 x 27.9 cm
Sydnie JimenezI’m Feelin Fine, 2022Ceramic, slip, and glaze32 x 24 x 24 in
81.3 x 61 x 61 cm
Foster SakyiamahKekeli Summer, 202239 3/8 x 39 3/8 in
100 x 100 cm
Erol Scott HarrisPIEL 11.11, 2022Mixed media on linoleum, vinyl, and vellum96 x 54 in
243.8 x 137.2 cm
Sherman BeckTargeted, 2012Oil and collage on giclée on canvas30 x 40 in
76.2 x 101.6 cm
Jake TroyliPortrait of the Artist with Hors d’oeuvre, 2020Oil on canvas12 x 16 x 2 in
30.5 x 40.6 x 5.1 cm
Elizabeth SekyiamahMoja Sori Eba, 202265 x 55 1/8 in
165 x 140 cm
Elizabeth SekyiamahYellow Sa Synchro, 202278 3/4 x 118 1/8 in
200 x 300 cm
Elizabeth SekyiamahVolta Obisi Vera, 202265 x 55 1/8 in
165 x 140 cm
Thelonious StokesA Post Mortem Portrait of Emmett and Louis Till, 2021Oil on canvas in gold frame78 3/4 x 57 1/8 in
200 x 145.1 cm
Kenrick McFarlaneJulius , 2021Oil on canvas48 x 48 in
121.9 x 121.9 cm
Kenrick McFarlaneNew American Painting, 2022Oil on canvas60 x 72 in
152.4 x 182.9 cm
Jewel HamIF IT WERE A SNAKE, 2022Oil on canvas30 x 30 x 2 in
76.2 x 76.2 x 5.1 cm
Gerald WilliamsWhen Will It Ever End, 2022Acrylic and collage on canvas60 x 48 in
152.4 x 121.9 cm
Nikko WashingtonJack II, 2021Oil and spray paint on canvas40 x 30 x 2 in
101.6 x 76.2 x 5.1 cm
Jahlil NzingaEASTER ISLAND, 2021Charcoal on two canvases40 x 80 x 2 in
101.6 x 203.2 x 5.1 cm
Jahlil NzingaPURE ..NO CUT, 2021Acrylic paint, Calligraphy ink, Aerosol, Solid state marker, Charcoal56 x 47 x 2 in
142.2 x 119.4 x 5.1 cm
Hebru BrantleyBlood is a Crip, 2016Acrylic on canvas30 x 30 x 2 in
76.2 x 76.2 x 5.1 cm
Josie Love RoebuckInterconnectedness I, 2022Fabric, screenprint, oil pastel, acrylic, yarn, dowel rod, and buttons59 x 48 x 3 in
149.9 x 121.9 x 7.6 cm
Josie Love RoebuckNot Enough, 2022Fabric, oil pastel, screenprint, acrylic, yarn, dowel rod, and buttons59 x 58 x 3 in
149.9 x 147.3 x 7.6 cm
Darryl WestlyGirl With Flowers (For Sandra), 2022Oil on canvas40 x 30 in
101.6 x 76.2 cm
Darryl WestlyBootstraps, 20223-D printed PLA, set of 213 x 10 x 2 in
33 x 25.4 x 4.9 cm
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