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Tariku Shiferaw: This Ain’t Safe at Cathouse Proper

 written by Jonathon Goodman, Arte Fuse, April 10, 2018

New York-based artist Tariku Shiferaw, born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and raised in Los Angeles, just opened his solo exhibition in Carroll Gardens at Cathouse Proper @ 524 Projects.  His remarkable show is small–less than ten works of art–but it throws unusual light on current developments in painting in both a formal sense, as a continuation of New York School visual insights, and in a social sense, as a young black painter. The circumstances Tariku is addressing are available from the very beginning of the show. On entering the second-floor gallery in south Brooklyn, visitors come across a group of hooded jackets, with horizontal lines of acrylic paint worked onto the front of the sweatshirts. While the clothing makes only a modest visual statement, its social projection, as an assertion of self, is loud and clear.

Shiferaw wears these articles of clothing, so they are more than mere stand-ins for him as a person; they belong to his body as a black man–hoodies have been part of hip-hop culture for decades.  Additionally, the artist names all of his works, including the sweatshirts, with titles taken from various songs belonging to black music–hip hop, r&b, rap, reggae. By using these titles, the artist immediately invests his works of art with a legacy that is at the same time highly contemporary. Often the meaning generated within the songs affect Shiferaw’s artworks themselves–in the sense of the meaning they carry–although this is not directly evident in the artwork.


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Installation view: Tariku Shiferaw at Cathouse Proper, 2018.

Images courtesy of Cathouse Proper.

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