At Gesù Church in Brussels, Maruani Mercier Gallery presented recent works in which Kaphar incorporated Renaissance-era religious iconography. Displayed on the flaky and at times graffitied walls of the deconsecrated church, a painted deposition scene shows Jesus’s body shrouded in black tar, and a portrait of a Black man is duct-taped onto a painting of a white-washed Christ.
This year also saw heightened interest on the secondary market for works by Kaphar, whom WSJ. Magazine named a “2020 Art Innovator.” At Sotheby’s, Page 4 of Jefferson’s “Farm Book” (2018) set an auction record for the artist at $854,900, nearly triple its high estimate of $300,000. Shortly after, at Phillips, Alternate Endings (2016) smashed its high estimate of £80,000 ($103,000), selling for £466,200 ($604,000).
—Harley Wong, Artsy
Titus Kaphar is an artist whose paintings, sculptures, and installations examine the history of representation by transforming its styles and mediums with formal innovations to emphasize the physicality and dimensionality of the canvas and materials themselves. His practice seeks to dislodge history from its status as the “past” in order to unearth its contemporary relevance. He cuts, crumples, shrouds, shreds, stitches, tars, twists, binds, erases, breaks, tears, and turns the paintings and sculptures he creates, reconfiguring them into works that reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history. Open areas become active absences; walls enter into the portraits; stretcher bars are exposed; and structures that are typically invisible underneath, behind, or inside the canvas are laid bare to reveal the interiors of the work. In so doing, Kaphar’s aim is to reveal something of what has been lost and to investigate the power of a rewritten history.
Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan and lives and works in New Haven, CT. Kaphar received an MFA from the Yale School of Art and is a distinguished recipient of numerous prizes and awards including a 2018 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2018 Art for Justice Fund grant, a 2016 Robert R. Rauschenberg Artist as Activist grant, and a 2015 Creative Capital grant. Kaphar’s work, Analogous colors, was featured on the cover of the June 15, 2020 issue of TIME. He gave a TED talk at the annual conference in Vancouver 2017, where he completed a whitewash painting, Shifting the Gaze, onstage. Kaphar’s work has been included in solo exhibitions at the Seattle Art Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, MoMA PS1 and the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, among others. His work is included in the collections of Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AK; the 21C Museum Collection; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), Miami, FL, amongst others.