Norte Maar opens a new exhibition space in Cypress Hills! Inaugurating the new space will be Kris Graves: The Testament Project, a riveting photography series that skillfully chronicles the artist’s motivation to capture a “re-conception of the contemporary black experience.” A house party and reception will be held on Saturday, June 4, 6-10pm. The exhibition will be open weekends 12-6pm or by appointment through July. RVSP to the house party on June 4.
The Testament Project is an exploration and re-conception of the contemporary black experience in America by New York City based photographer Kris Graves. Using the traditional form of portraiture, Graves captures his subjects in unfettered pose. All of his subjects are young black men. They are his friends or his acquaintances. Introspective and contemplative, Graves places these men in a non-identifiable neutral environment—distancing them from the potential trappings of stereotypes. Only a few of his portraits are made on location.
Unlike Kehinde Wiley’s embellished paintings that glamorize the black male experience or John Currin’s frilly portraits that satire what it means to be human, Graves’ photographs are authentic—capturing humanity with a studied clarity. “More often than not, black people are portrayed in the extreme,” explains Graves, “either as very rich or very poor, they are demonized, infantilized, ridiculed, idolized or hyper-sexualized; and within the art canon there is a noticeable scarcity of authentic black representation.” In the process of photographing his subjects, Graves also captures the testimonies of his subjects on video. Learn more about The Testament Project.
In the more traditionally lit studio portraits, the subjects are named for their professions to emphasize the depth of their identities, beyond race. In the glowing portraits, I give control of the colored lighting to my subjects, in order to create a space that is participatory and empowered. By including my subjects in the creation of the scene in the use of color, I seek to create photographs that portray individuality in addition to their blackness. -Kris Graves
“This is an amazing opportunity for us to have Kris’ riveting photographs inaugurate our new space in Cypress Hills,” co-founder / director Jason Andrew explains. “Kris is a good friend and a remarkable artist. Over the past year I’ve been following his pivotal project. It is an important and timely series. In this rich and unique exploration, Kris balances artistry with a contemporary dialogue about race. We are honored to make this work accessible not only to our new neighborhood of Cypress Hills but to the greater New York art world.”
Our new gallery space in Cypress Hills will remain true to our original mission—to upend traditional narratives. It will continue what we started with the original apartment gallery on Wyckoff, which fueled the Bushwick art scene from 2008-2015. This gallery space is a hybrid, juxtaposing the process and ideas of an artist’s studio with the clarity and severity of a white box gallery—a place for greater access and engagement with artist… a learning place for us all. We are grateful to have Kris inaugurate our new space with this striking series. – Jason Andrew