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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

Rico Gatson Featured Artworks

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Untitled (Expansive Light Consciousness I) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Expansive Light Consciousness I), 2021Acrylic paint and glitter on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
Untitled (Young Mystics II) by Rico Gatson contemporary artwork
Rico GatsonUntitled (Young Mystics II), 2021Acrylic paint and glitter on wood
91.4 x 203.2 cm
Miles McEnery Gallery Enquire
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

Rico Gatson Recent Exhibitions

Rico Gatson Represented By

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