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TERN Gallery presents “Notions of Self”, exploring the multiplicities of Caribbean identity and experience

Exhibition presents 4 contemporary artists from the Caribbean engaged in reflection with culture and selfhood through various artistic applications of abstraction

“Breadfruit 3” (20210) by Tessa Whitehead.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — TERN Gallery presents “Notions of Self”, a multidisciplinary exhibition presenting the work of 4 contemporary artists from the Caribbean: Leasho Johnson, Dominique Knowles, Heino Schmid and Tessa Whitehead, on view from June 7 to August 23, 2021.

“Notions of Self” reflects on selfhood and identity inside a neo-colonial world. The works on view reflect on the commonalities of identification markers that exist throughout the Caribbean, and the constrictions or possibilities for expansion that influence each artist’s creative process. The title also alludes to the deep and meditative ephemerality asserted within the mixed media works, giving evidence to the highly complex realities of Caribbean identities.

“Neither Breathed Nor Held” (2021) by Leasho Johnson.

“The underlying theme throughout the work reveals a way of multiculturalism that’s present once we take into consideration Caribbean identity, and the way that doesn’t allow us to be defined in singular or fixed ways,” said Jodi Minnis, TERN Gallery manager and curator of “Notions of Self”.

“As Caribbean artists, there is commonly room to expand, contract, contort and re-present ourselves as vital. Inside ‘Notions of Self’, there may be a way of confidence and certainty in this chance where each artist exists as many things abruptly.”

As a bunch show, “Notions of Self” plays at each individuality and multiplicity, allowing each artist to be all of who they’re directly, sharing a typical thread of courage, vulnerability and honesty. All utilize rudimentary sentiments of drawing and painting, blurring the lines between abstraction and figuration.

“What’s Your Name? No. 2” (2021) by Heino Schmid. (TERN GALLERY/HEINO SCHMID)

The ambition of Schmid’s contour lines in his figure drawings is contrasted by the usually idiosyncratic slouchiness of his subjects, who’re broken all the way down to their most essential beings.

Whitehead’s work presents a window onto the wild woman archetype, where figures merge with their surrounding landscape.

Knowles represents the generational evolution of Bahamian abstract art, following the groundwork laid by Schmid and Whitehead, but unlike the latter’s work, where human and landscape are unified, in Knowles’ work it’s the human-animal connection that’s emphasized. With brushstrokes that replicate the motion of grooming a horse, Knowles conjures the presence of the animal within the work, while its often ambitious scale subsumes the viewer into his manifested realm.

Like Knowles, Johnson approaches autobiography in his work, which is comprised of varied mediums, tackling the subject of masculinity as depicted in Jamaican popular culture and where the body can also be often consumed throughout the landscape that becomes a secure space for self-expression.

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