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TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976)
TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976)
TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976)
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TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976)

Jerome XVII

Details
TITUS KAPHAR (B.1976)
Jerome XVII
oil, gold leaf and tar on panel
10 x 7 x 1 in. (25.4 x 17.8 x 2.5 cm.)
Executed in 2014.
Provenance
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2015

Brought to you by

Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Associate Vice President, Specialist

Lot Essay

A striking example from Titus Kaphar’s seminal series, The Jerome Project, which was exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem in late 2014-early 2015, Jerome XVII (2014) exemplifies the artist’s continued engagement with contemporary social issues and his aesthetically compelling and technically innovative approach. In 2011, Kaphar became consumed in the criminal justice system while searching for his father’s prison records. Struck by a common thread while browsing the photographs within the public records of prisoners, he uncovered dozens of other men who shared his father’s name, Jerome, revealing the overrepresentation of African American men within the prison population. What followed was an intensive investigation of the incarceration and policing institutions embroiled in systemic racism.

Each panel within the series represents a mug shot of a different incarcerated Jerome, rendered on a gold leaf relief. By dripping the lower register in tar, Kaphar obscures half of the subject’s face, leaving a piercing gaze at center. Entombed within the tar, each subject exists behind the obfuscation, although the thick, impenetrable cloak has rendered them voiceless. His use of gold leaf links each portrait to the visual culture and icons of early Christianity, while also symbolizing the light of God, holiness and power. Juxtaposed with a layer of tar, Jerome is crystallized within the dichotomy between prosperity and a tradition of oppression.

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