“If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.”
–Gospel of Matthew, 5:40
Regen Projects is pleased to present Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak, the second solo exhibition at the gallery by Theaster Gates.
Line Drawing for Shirt and Cloak presents a complex reflection on desire, consumption and surrender using contemporary activations of the storefront as a vehicle for expressing both emotional and aesthetic intent. With a highly honed metal strategy and the artist’s entire wardrobe, this multi-faceted installation represents a conscious movement toward the freedom found when one’s appetite and the world’s insistence asks for everything, and a moment of clearing when emotive freedom is found.
Referencing the exhibition’s title, the gallery will be transformed by a series of free-standing and wall-mounted metal structures that demarcate the interior of the space, forming a series of line drawings onto which varying sculptural and quotidian works will hang. Additional sculptural forms supported by large stone pillars and large metal and wood platforms form the basis of an extant atelier. In preparation for the exhibition, Gates will transform his entire wardrobe into many smaller symbolic works, which will be placed en masse as a large sculptural work. This body of work, while a departure in material motif, underscores Gates’ ongoing interest in both the transcendental acts of reclusion and denouncement, and his inability to totally reconcile his appetite for spiritual truth with his competing desire for the things of this world. Through painting, sculpture, sound, and up-cycling, Gates continues to find truth in the unseen and evidence growth in ways unexpected.
A new vocal score conceived of and performed by Gates punctuates the exhibition space. The lyrics of the piece playfully riff on the biblical verse from which the exhibition’s title is inspired, and offer an explication for the artist’s metamorphosis.
“I’ve always been a lover of material things; fashion, antiques, adornment. A believer in the beautiful. But in this moment, I’ve never felt more need to question my own contempt and appetite. This process is not a spiritual attempt; it’s actually quite worldly. I can’t feel growth because I’m weighted by the things around me and people can’t see my growth. The accumulations are a distraction. But the title has much to do with what happens when the world charges you – the outside forces that judge and gnaw and hate. If the world wants to pursue me for this shirt, well, they can have it all.
The sculptural intent of the show is to introduce an unexpected spatial strategy at Regen that gives me permission to be free of conventional gallery tropes and form a set of new sculptural dictates that consider more of the everyday world of fashion and street activity. The project is a minor response to the growth of interest that the fashion world has in art and perhaps my own reckoning with the power of the hyper-public, hyper-everyday considerations that fashion affords. I’m in dialogue with Willie Wear, Girbaud, the Prada concern, retail projects in China, the historic fashions that Chicago House Music produced, and my mama’s church hats. While none of these things need to be immediately perceived, they are no-less present.” –Theaster Gates, 2019