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

TERN Gallery presents “Notions of Self”, exploring the multiplicities of Caribbean identity and experience
“Love in the darkness but never in the day (Anansi #9)” (2020) by Leasho Johnson. (TERN GALLERY/LEASHO JOHNSON)

Exhibition presents four 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 four 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 within a neo-colonial world. The works on view reflect on the commonalities of identification markers that exist within 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 in 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 within the work reveals a sense of multiculturalism that is present when we think about Caribbean identity, and how 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 often room to expand, contract, contort and re-present ourselves as necessary. Within ‘Notions of Self’, there is a sense of confidence and certainty in this opportunity where each artist exists as many things all at once.”

As a group show, “Notions of Self” plays at both individuality and multiplicity, allowing each artist to be all of who they are at once, sharing a common 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 often idiosyncratic slouchiness of his subjects, who are broken 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 is the human-animal connection that is emphasized. With brushstrokes that replicate the action of grooming a horse, Knowles conjures the presence of the animal in 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 various mediums, tackling the topic of masculinity as depicted in Jamaican pop culture and where the body is also often consumed within the landscape that becomes a safe space for self-expression.