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Rico Gatson Biography

Rico Gatson is a contemporary American interdisciplinary artist with a politically and conceptually driven practice. The New York-based artist creates often confrontational works that combine colourful abstract fractal patterns with references to African American culture and history.

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Graduating from Yale School of Art, New Haven, in 1991, Gatson's work in the past three decades has spanned painting, prints, sculpture, video, and installation. Stylistically, he draws upon a range of art historical movements, including Bauhaus and Op art, as well as traditional African textile patterns.

Across all formats, Rico Gatson incorporates fractal patterns and geometric grids comprised of complementary colours and interspersed with silhouettes. In various video works, for example, moving kaleidoscopic patterns and dynamic soundtracks are created by layering excerpts from popular films and television shows.

Gatson uses his striking abstract visual elements to enhance appropriated imagery from black history and popular culture. His subjects, drawn from photographs and film, include black heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis. Looking beyond just individuals, his work also represents significant moments in black history, including the Watts Riots, the rise of the Black Panthers, and Barack Obama's election to president.

Rico Gatson has said that he's 'always interested in seducing the viewer and then hitting them on the way out, allowing a delayed response to powerfully charged content.' Often politically motivated, he confronts viewers with uncomfortable realities. For the 2006 solo exhibition African Fractals at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, the artist created works that evoked traditional African folk patterns while containing racist symbols such as swastikas and confederate flags.

Gatson's work has attracted several public art commissions. His 2019 MTA commission adorned a New York subway station with radiating mosaic portraits of figures who have been influential in the Bronx community. Gatson has exhibited in galleries across the United States, and major public institutions like The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and Minneapolis Institute of Art have collected Gatson works.

Rico Gatson Solo Exhibitions include:

Rico Gatson: 2007–2017, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); Three Trips around the Block, Exit Art, New York (2011); Rico Gatson, MCAD Gallery, Minneapolis (2008); Masking: Rico Gatson (Kindred), Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2001); Fire, Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York (2000).

Rico Gatson Group Exhibitions include:

New Symphony of Time, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson (2019); Art + Activism: Drawing the Line, Children's Museum of the Arts, New York (2018); Jazz and Love, La Vieille Charité, Marseille (2018); 1967: Parallels in Black Art and Rebellion, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit (2017); New, New York, Essl Museum, Vienna (2012); FREESTYLE, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001); Current Undercurrent, Brooklyn Museum, New York (1997).

Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020

Exhibition view: Group Exhibition, Light, Miles McEnery Gallery, 511 West 22nd Street, New York (13 May–19 June 2021). Courtesy the artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY. Photo: Christopher Burke Studio.

Rico Gatson Featured Artworks

View All (18)
Untitled (Double Sun/Sonhouse) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Double Sun/Sonhouse), 2021Acrylic paint on wood
121.9 x 91.4 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Bluesologists After Gil Scott) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Bluesologists After Gil Scott), 2021Acrylic paint on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Miles by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonMiles, 2020Colour pencil and photograph collage on paper
56.2 x 77.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Ghosts After Albert Ayler) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Ghosts After Albert Ayler), 2020Acrylic paint and glitter on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Magic Diamonds) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Magic Diamonds), 2020Acrylic paint on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Young Mystics) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Young Mystics), 2020Acrylic paint and glitter on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Transparent Bodies) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Transparent Bodies), 2020Acrylic paint on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Fiery Fire) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Fiery Fire), 2020Acrylic paint on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire

Rico Gatson Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Light at Miles McEnery Gallery, 511 West 22nd Street, New York
Closing Soon
13 May–19 June 2021 Group Exhibition Light Miles McEnery Gallery511 West 22nd Street
Contemporary art exhibition, Rico Gatson, Ghosts at Miles McEnery Gallery, 520 West 21st Street, New York
Closed
19 November–19 December 2020 Rico Gatson Ghosts Miles McEnery Gallery520 West 21st Street, New York
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Sound & Color at Miles McEnery Gallery, 511 West 22nd Street, New York
Closed
19 November–19 December 2020 Group Exhibition Sound & Color Miles McEnery Gallery511 West 22nd Street

Rico Gatson Represented By

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