Anat Ebgi is pleased to announce Hush Now, Don’t Explain, a solo show of new work by Jamaican-born artist Cosmo Whyte on view at 4859 Fountain Avenue, July 27 – September 16. This is the artist’s second solo exhibition with the gallery. An opening reception will take place on Thursday, July 27 from 5 – 8pm.
Please join us Saturday, July 29, at 1pm for a conversation at the gallery between artist Cosmo Whyte and curator Hamza Walker.
For Hush Now, Don’t Explain, Whyte continues his engagement with ‘the archive.’ From his drawings based on journalistic photographs to a large metal structure based on his father’s archive of architectural drawings, the exhibition is a story of public and private accumulation, remembrance and preservation, and the borders between those distinctions. Whyte views this relationship between personal and the public archives as symbiotic—mutually supportive in searching for and constructing identity. His works weave personal narratives with larger considerations of colonization of the Caribbean, as well as contemporary social and political circumstances of the region, with a particular focus on Jamaica.
If time and its passage is measured as the period between events, Whyte’s practice collapses and reorders these sequences. His work destabilizes assumptions about colonization, migration, and the ongoing struggle for racial justice through oblique references and historical imagery. Whyte’s practice engages photographs from a range of Black diasporic archives depicting various forms of agitations taking place in spaces of gathering including documentation of the West Indies cricket team to scenes of protest in Ferguson to Jamaican dancehalls. He offers complicated juxtapositions with intentionally slippery legibility as a way to interrogate the role of photography in shaping discourse around particular events, regions, or periods—especially as they relate to interpretations of the colonial project in the Caribbean and its postcolonial diaspora.
For his large drawings, called ‘the Agitation series,’ Whyte introduces a new formal element of pixelation, a gesture that can be read as obscuring or protecting an individual’s identity and shifting the focus to the events or gatherings represented instead. It is a process of simplification and reduction through which Whyte contrasts what is known against what is unknown; viewers are left to ponder their uncertainty. Redaction continues to figure into his paper works through the process of scraping the paper, cutting ‘spanish lace’ into the paper, and now through blurring and pixelating.
Situated in the middle of the gallery, sits a minimal metal structure from which Whyte has suspended his signature beaded curtains. This display apparatus is based on a combination of unrealized architectural drawings made by Whyte’s late father. The blueprints Whyte worked from consist primarily of domestic spaces that each have a centralized gathering space or yard. Whyte’s translation of his father’s structures remains incomplete and permeable by viewers. A skeletal frame, the gesture is a postmortem collaboration between artist and father—bridging generations and creating a temporary site of inquiry around absence and presence. The structure evokes both interior and exterior components of domestic architecture, merging communal and private—a recurring motif in the exhibition.
The beaded curtains partition off sections of the steel structure. These works are based on beaded partitions found in domestic spaces in the Caribbean, oftentimes separating the kitchen from the living room. Viewers are momentarily confronted with the choice and chance to question themselves spatially—to consider their own body and presence, to push through the curtain and feel the piece, the weight of the beads, to pierce the archive and disrupt the legibility of the image. As one moves through the curtain, the beads clang together and over time chip away, recording movements, leaving traces, forming an archive of movement. This instance of intimate bodily engagement shifts the viewer from passive observer into active participant, implicating the audience as more than spectators by allowing them to distort the image themselves.
Cosmo Whyte (b. 1982, St. Andrew, Jamaica) received a BFA from Bennington College, a post-baccalaureate at Maryland Institute College of Art, and a MFA from University of Michigan. In 2020 he had solo exhibitions at MOCA Georgia and ICA San Diego. Whyte has exhibited in biennial exhibitions including Prospect.5 New Orleans (2022) 13th Havana Biennial, the Jamaica Biennial (2017), and the Atlanta Biennial (2016). His work has been included in exhibitions at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; The Drawing Center, New York, NY; The Somerset House, London, UK; Museum of Latin American Art, Los Angeles, CA; Atlanta Contemporary, Atlanta, GA; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; and the National Gallery of Jamaica, Kingston, Jamaica. His work is in public museum collections including the High Museum, Atlanta; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; International African American Museum, Charlotte, NC; Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia; National Gallery of Jamaica; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. In 2022 he joined the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture as an assistant professor. Whyte lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.