From a Tropical Space

In this body of work, Kaphar presents a haunting narrative of black motherhood wherein fear and collective trauma crescendo to the disappearance of their children. What is seen is an excision from the canvas. The absence of each small figure—whether seated in a stroller or held against a shoulder—reveals only the wall of the gallery. The intense coloration of the suburban environments only heightens a pervasive sense of tension—these are images for uncertain times.

“IT MIGHT HURT, IT MIGHT HINDER, YOU MIGHT LIKE THE WORK LESS—THAT’S REALLY NOT THE POINT; THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED TO DO IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE WORK. . .”

-TITUS KAPHAR


From a Tropical Space, 2019
Oil on canvas 
92 x 72 inches
The distance between what we have and what we want, 2019 
Oil on canvas
108 x 84 inches

SEEING THE CHILD: BRAIDING POSSIBILITY

Titus Kaphar and Tochi Onyebuchi present an excerpt from their short story “Seeing the Child,” a poetic rumination on Kaphar’s latest body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–).

If I rush, then I’ll have to start over.

I’ll have to untangle and double back, and more time will have been lost. If I focus—focus on this scalp that glows golden before me, focus on the geometrical patterns I’m making out of this hair, focus on the message trapped in these patterns like parchment in a storm-tossed bottle—then maybe we’ll make it out in time.

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TITUS KAPHAR:
IN THE STUDIO

Jacoba Urist reports on a recent trip to the artist’s studio in New Haven, Connecticut, to see his new body of work, From a Tropical Space (2019–). She writes on the emotional and sensory impact of these paintings and considers their singular place in Titus Kaphar’s oeuvre.

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