To say I have been living in London for over 3 years and hadn’t been to the Tate modern, I took this art exhibition as my perfect excuse for some culture in the capital. The soul of a nation – art in the age of black power exhibition showcased art from 1963 to 1983 but not just any type of art. ‘ Black Art’ was initially rejected in America then, with the civil rights movement still fresh, many black artist had to find alternative ways to display and redefine their art.
The exhibition was set up to walk you through different era’s, showing how the art transformed and transcended itself to tell the stories of the unheard. It begins in 1963, the height of the Civil Rights Movement in America. While this movement fought for the equality of all, there were many who rejected this idea and instead were fighting for Black Power.
Then the gallery takes you to into the next room which showcased Art on the streets. For many black artists at the time, they didn’t have anywhere else to display their art than on their neighbourhood streets.
“The Ghetto itself is the Gallery for the Revolutionary Artist”
– Emory Douglas
The whole exhibition is made up of 12 rooms, some with abstract art and other’s more legible, some in black and whites and others bursting with colour. If you didn’t get a chance to view it, I have a few of my favourite pieces here:
What do you see when you look at this abstract piece?
If you look carefully you would easily tell it was people running. Taking a closer look you might be able to identify the KKK. It is such a powerful and painful piece of art when you actually take a break from all the distractions and strip it down.
This piece below by Barkley Hendricks where he paints himself wearing a superman t-shirt. It shows solidarity with Bobby Sealer, a Black Panther co-founder, who said these words ” Superman never saved any black people” at his 1969 trial.
And this one again by Barkley Hendricks demonstrating his swagger and confidence.
The whole exhibition is a rollercoaster of emotions that pulls on your heart strings and also makes your heart glow. This painting “injustice case” probably had the biggest impact. This is another piece that addresses the trial of Bobby Seale where he was bound and gagged in the courtroom, with no human decency.
The whole exhibition, while demonstrating the segregated, turbulent times, was unfortunately a reminder of the things still happening today. And while we have come a long way in terms of equal rights, we still have a long way to go. Some longer for others.
And Art is one of the best ways of bringing people together, teaching and sharing cultures and views and this exhibition did just that.