New exhibition at the White Cube Bermondsey gallery by American artist Theaster Gates is called Freedom of Assembly. Although at first the work appears quite dark and minimalistic, the experience going through the gallery becomes empowering and positive – in the end it is about freedom to express.
Gates is using tar as a material in his paintings, making ‘formal interventions’ into them, instead of just trying to paint with tar. He wants to maintain the laboured activity that originates from roofing.
He is also upcycling disregarded materials from e.g. hardware store that has been become redundant. He is reusing the material and sculpting it in new ways. It is nice to see the humble material like flooring can be created to something beautiful. In a frugal way Gates proves that you can make anything from nothing, which is a strong positive message.
Freedom of Assembly introduces Gates’ previous ceramics, which he has reworked by giving them a new life using tar and ‘opening conversations’ of new free way to work.
It is fantastic to see a modest material like tar used in an unconventional and surprisingly beautiful way. Tar emphasises materiality aspect and gives the 3D effect to the paintings.